Sunday, July 28, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #26- Iowa State

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Iowa State
Head Coach: Andrea Grove-McDonough (1st Season)
2012 National Finish- 11th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Samantha Bluske (Sr., 16:22, 34:16)
  • Katy Moen (Jr., 16:34, 35:17)
  • Crystal Nelson (So., 16:31, 35:47)
  • Colleen Riley (So., 4:35 1500, 10:42 3k Steeple)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Erin Hooker (Fr., 4 X NXN Nats qualifer, 11th NXN '11, 25th, '12, 10:25 3200m (alt.time))

Season Preview

The Women Cyclones are in a similar situation as the men heading into the 2013 season with Coach Ihmels out and Martin Smith in. The bad news is that Betsy Saina and Meghan Nelson are gone, the good news is the Coach Smith is a proven winner and will coach this team back to the National Championships without the two of them. 

Iowa State looks to have four solid athletes returning from their top seven at Nats and Regionals, and although they are not their 1-2, they make up the core pack runners that every team so desperately needs. 

The no. 1 returner for the Cyclones is Crystal Nelson, who was their solid no. 3 for the majority of the season behind Saina and the other Nelson. This Nelson, who did not have quite as good of a track season as Bluske, is now a sophomore and has a year of NCAA XC experience under her belt which will prove useful as she is now turned to as a leader to help the Cyclones get to Terre Haute. 

Samantha Bluske, who finished right behind Nelson in seemingly every race in '12, is also back and will provide veteran leadership that this team loses with Saina and Nelson gone. Bluske had a good track season where she brought down her 5k and 10k PRs and qualified to the West Regional in both events. 

Katy Moen and Colleen Riley are both experienced cross country runners and will play important roles in the 1-5 of Iowa State. Moen has good 5k and 10k PRs and if she can translate her track times into solid xc running, she will be a good no. 3 runner.

The prize recruit for the Cyclones is Erin Hooker of perennial powerhouse Fort Collins, Colorado. Hooker has been one of the better xc runners in the country for the past few seasons and ran well at NXN in 2011 and 2012. Having thus been the no. 1 runner on one of the best teams in the country two years in a row, Hooker will prove to be another good asset to their 1-5 and could find herself in the 2-3 role as the season progresses. In fact, you never know with her upside, she could end up leading Iowa State into the national championships. 

The returning Midwest  Regional champs have some work to do to defend their title as Minnesota is reloaded and Oklahoma State has some very strong front-runners. Although this is a difficult region, Iowa State should acquire enough credential points early in the season to make the National Championships in Terre Haute in November. 

1 comment:

  1. Iowa State is also returning Morgan Casey who has twice ran at Nationals for the Cyclones.