Hawkeye runners falter at Big Ten championships

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's cross-country team failed to reach its expectations on Sunday, placing 10th in the field of 11 teams at the Big Ten cross-country championships in Champaign, Ill.

Jeff Thode was the top finisher for the Hawkeyes; he placed 20th among the 93 runners. Nick Holmes earned second for Iowa, placing 43rd. Kevin Lewis, Ben Witt, and Cameron Rieger rounded out Iowa's score sheet, taking 63rd, 66th, and 68th.

Head coach Larry Wieczorek said he wasn't pleased with the way his runners competed and doesn't think the runners lived up to their capabilities.

"It was not a good day for the Hawkeye men," he said. "We took a step backwards in terms of performance. Our lead runner, Thode, was ninth in this event last year, and 20th today. It was disappointing for everyone. We just weren't up to the challenge today, which is a poor excuse — especially for the veterans."

Iowa's runners still have a chance to individually qualify for nationals, though; the NCAA Midwest Regional will be held Nov. 12 in DeKalb, Ill.

Wieczorek said he still has confidence in his team, but the regional meet is the Hawkeyes' last chance to make something of their season.

"We still have another chance at regionals," he said. "[Thode] has to do well, or else he will be at home watching nationals. I think our guys want to prove they're better than this. It's a chance to end the season on a high note."

— by Ben Ross

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