Luciano runs for ‘completeness’

BY SEAN MORGAN | AUGUST 24, 2009 7:05 AM

Jesse Luciano will enter his final Iowa cross-country season dealing with high expectations.

This is not a new feeling for the senior out of Villa Park, Ill. Many around Luciano have expected a lot since Micah VanDenand, the school record holder in the 5,000 meters, told him he could be the greatest runner Iowa has ever seen.

Don’t try to lay that mantle on Luciano, though.

“I really am just running for myself,” Luciano said. “I would hate to think of myself as being the greatest at anything.”

Luciano finished last season as the lone runner wearing the Black and Gold at last year’s NCAA championships. Finishing 43rd overall in the 10,000 meters, he narrowly missed All-American status, which is awarded to the top 40 finishers. Last season also saw Luciano set a school record in the 6,000 meter, finishing with a time of 23:01.

“He’s what I call a complete runner,” said head cross-country coach Larry Wieczorek. “He has the speed. He has the stamina. And most importantly he has that hunger.”

Though Luciano was twice named all-state, he failed to bring home a state championship, finishing sixth and 10th his senior and junior years.

“I just couldn’t stay healthy,” he said. “Something always happened.”

Luciano has kept himself healthy at Iowa through a consistent workout regiment, so he never has to take a day off. Instead of focusing on the intensity of his workouts, he concentrates on the number hours he spends on the course, pacing himself for a long, exhausting season.

“I just stay with a workout until it becomes easy, and then I move up from there,” he said.

This simple but effective method has earned him success as well as an all-business reputation on the course, from competitors and teammates alike.

“He just gets it done,” said teammate and running partner Sam Bailin.

Luciano is hoping to finish in the top five in each meet but is far more excited about the prospect of helping Iowa return to nationals, something that hasn’t been accomplished since Luciano was a freshman running in VanDenand’s footsteps.

“We have an unbelievable amount of raw talent,” Luciano said. “One of the good things about our sport is that we are just one killer meet from nationals.”

For Wieczorek, the expectations and aspirations surrounding his star runner are deserved and possible due to the foundations Luciano has laid out for himself in his first three years at Iowa.

“You work hard, and you expect to do well,” Wieczorek said. “You expect to win. That confidence is earned.”

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