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Women's cross-country finishes sixth on Big Ten

BY ELDON GIANNAKOUROS | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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A handful of bright individual showings were dulled by a team performance that undershot the Iowa women's cross-country team's high expectations at the Big Ten championships in Champaign, Ill.

The pack-running element that led the team to success early in the season was absent in the Hawkeyes' sixth-place finish on Sunday.

"We would have liked to stay in a pack throughout the entire race," senior McKenzie Melander said. "We were a little bit more spread out than we needed to be."

Melander led the Black and Gold, finishing in 13th place with a time of 20:41 to beat a personal record and post the seventh-best time in school history. It was a bittersweet moment for Melander, though, because some of her teammates were less successful in Champaign.

"I'd like to see everybody be happy at the end of the race; I know we all had high hopes," Melander said. "You always like to see everyone have a [personal record] and everyone achieve success — but you can only do what you can do, I guess."

Betsy Flood followed Melander for the Black and Gold in 21st place with a time of 20:52. Kayla Beattie and Mareike Schrulle finished in 39th and 40th place with times of 21:12 and 21:13. Megan Ranegar took the final scoring position for the Hawkeyes with a 57th-place finish and a time of 21:43.

Coach Layne Anderson said he wasn't satisfied with his squad's showing, believing the runners faltered in the last half of the race. He said his Hawkeyes have to find a way to put the meet behind them if they expect to reach the NCAA meet this November.

"We still have one of our goals out there, and that's to make the NCAA meet," he said. "I still feel like we're a good enough team to do that, but if we run like we did today, our season will end in two weeks.

"It depends largely on their ability to get this one behind us and get back to work."

Flood said she was disappointed after the meet, but it seems she won't have any problem moving on to bigger things in time for the NCAA regional on Nov. 12.

"The Big Ten [meet] is really important, but it's also just a status thing; it's just a title," Flood said. "The best thing we can do for our team is not worry about running — just get on the line and race, and remember that it's just running."

The squad appears to have hit a snag since its dominant first-place showing at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational on Oct. 1. But even after missing a golden opportunity to show themselves in Champaign, Flood said the positive atmosphere that has driven the Hawkeyes all season hadn't ebbed.

"I wouldn't trade being Michigan or Michigan State or whoever wins any meet just to win that meet, as opposed to being on our team," she said. "It's just such a great atmosphere, and you're surrounded by all of your best friends and constant positive support. If that's the most I'm going to get out of this season, then that's the greatest gift anyone could give me."


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