Women’s cross-country loses season opener


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The Iowa women’s cross-country team opened its season with a 32-33 loss to Illinois State on Sept. 2. The Hawkeyes competed at the Iowa Open, held on the Ashton Cross-Country Course.

Redbird freshman Krista DeCeault won the 4-kilometer race with a time of 14:19. The top finisher for the Hawkeyes was junior Kelsey Hart with a time of 14:42. Junior Nicole Benson and sophomore Katherin Rehn finished fifth and seventh with times of 14:56 and 15:00, respectively.

Hart has competed at high levels before. The West Branch native posted some of her best times last season in the 3,000 meters at the Iowa Invitational (10:42), 5,000-meters at the Notre Dame Invitational (18:18), and 6,000-meters at the NCAA regional (21:51).

“It was a good opportunity to get our season started and see where our fitness level is,” Hart said. “We’re pretty excited about the season, and we have a lot more ahead of us.”

Iowa senior Jackie Laesch said she wasn’t surprised by Hart’s performance.

“She’s probably the hardest worker on our team,” Laesch said. “She trains with some former Iowa runners, like [2012 Olympics hopeful] Diane Nukuri; she pushes herself really hard, and she deserves [her success].”

The heat likely had an effect on the Hawkeyes — temperatures were recorded as high as 92 degrees.

Head coach Layne Anderson and his harriers didn’t use the heat as an excuse for their performances, however. Anderson said all the runners at the Iowa Open had to deal with the same conditions.

“Anytime you run in 90-degree weather, it’s not optimal condition for running,” he said. “But we had to start the season, regardless of the temperature.”

Anderson decided to hold out his top four runners: Betsy Flood, Brooke Eilers, McKenzie Melander, and Kayla Beattie didn’t compete. The nine-year head coach said he wanted to be cautious with his best lineup early in the year, especially with Beattie; the freshman won two gold medals at the Pan American Junior Championships in July.

“Kayla had a long summer after a long track season in high school,” Anderson said. “She has been racing at a high level, and I want to play it safe.”

The Hawks will return to action on Sept. 16 at the Iowa Invitational.

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