Cross-country's Thode gets his shot at nationals

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's cross-country team rebounded from its poorest showing of the year to take ninth place out of 25 teams this past weekend at the Midwest Regional Championships in DeKalb, Ill.

Juniors Nick Holmes and Jeff Thode both earned All-Regional honors, and Thode won the honor for the third year in a row. The junior placed eighth overall, qualifying him to compete in the NCAA cross-country championships for the second-straight year. He also has a chance to earn an All-American title in consecutive years.

Holmes had the best race of his career as a Hawkeye. He placed 18th and missed the cut for the NCAAs by nine-tenths of a second.

Thode said he was excited to qualify for nationals for the second time, and he especially looks forward to competing this year in order to salvage what he called a disappointing personal season.

"It feels good," he said. "I met my goal of making it to nationals again, and I'm going to shoot for a top-25 finish this year. After a disappointing Big Ten [championship performance], I'm going to try to avenge myself."

The NCAA meet will be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 21 and feature 31 teams and an additional 38 runners who qualified for the meet separate from their teams, as did Thode. He placed 30th individually in the 10-kilometer event last year; the top 40 runners earn All-American status.

Head cross-country coach Larry Wieczorek praised Thode and his performance and said the NCAAs are a good tribute to runners and the work they put into their sport.

"Jeff did very well, running the best race of the season," the 25-year head coach said. "He put it together and ran with the leaders. We will travel Saturday, where they hold a banquet for the athletes later that evening. It's really a nice ceremony; it helps the athletes realize their accomplishments and how big of an event it really is."

— by Ben Ross

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