Men's cross country expands roster


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The men’s cross-country team had a disappointing season in 2011, finishing ninth in the Big Ten meet and sending only one runner to NCAAs. This year the Hawkeyes have only seven returning runners from the 2011 season and are bringing in 11 new runners.

Of the 11, eight are incoming freshmen. Senior Nate Lonsway, a transfer from Eastern Michigan and sophomore transfer Cullen Shanrock from Gustavos Adolphus College will also join the team.

Coach Larry Wiezcorek described the incoming freshmen as being a strong foundation for the team. He said that they will bring success to the team, if not this year, then in the future. The strength that comes with this new group is not solely their talent but their attitudes as well, he said.

“[They] show me the most that they want to do it, they want success, to train hard, to be good,” he said.

Wiezcorek is also impressed with how well the freshmen have bonded as well as with the returning runners. Many of the freshmen come with a winning background and winning expectations, Wiezcorek said.

Freshman Caleb Wilfong was the 2011 Missouri cross-country champion, and he runs a 4:12 mile. Wiezcorek believes he will have a great impact on the team.

Freshman Daniel Huff was one of the best runners in Iowa, Wiezcorek said. He is likely to redshirt his freshmen season because of a stress fracture.

Other freshmen come with good credentials, including Matt Butler, who was the state mile champion in Iowa. Freshmen Anthony Gregorio and Taylor Soltys come from two of the best cross-country programs in Illinois.

The captain position was given to fifth-year senior Nick Holmes. Wiezcorek believes that Holmes’ experience on the team will make him a good captain and hopes that he will be able to share those experiences with the newer players.

“He’s going to be our lead guy; even if he’s not always the No. 1 guy, he’s our leader,” Wiezcorek said.

Holmes said being selected as the team captain was a huge honor and that he was very grateful. He also agrees that his experience he will be able to share some of his wisdom to the newer runners.

“I’ve been through a lot with injuries and the four years of being here, things I’ve seen,” Holmes said.

The main goal Holmes has is to get the team together and to perform well. He also wants to lead the team by example and to keep everyone positive about running and competing.

 “It’s not just sitting down and talking to the guys but what I’ve done and to keep doing that and to put in hard work,” he said. “If they see [me] doing right things, they’ll do it too.”  

In 2011, Holmes missed qualifying for the NCAA men’s cross-country championships by only 0.9 seconds.

“It was one of the best races I’ve ever had,” Holmes said. “I was in 90th place at the mile marker, and I finished in 17th place.”

But the team’s only runner to earn an NCAA berth last season, Jeff Thode, isn’t on the roster this year. He decided to withdraw from school this year, he said.

Despite missing Thode, who led the team last season, Wiezcorek and Holmes remain optimistic about their potential this season.

Holmes and Wiezcorek both agree that the ultimate goal is to be a NCAA-qualifying team.

In 2011, one of the best meets the Hawkeyes had was at their very own Ashton Cross-Country Course. In 2012, however, the Hawkeyes will not have the home-course advantage.

Wiezcorek said that he criticizes himself for not being able to get enough teams to come to Iowa City to compete.

“I don’t remember ever not having a home meet,” he said. “And it won’t happen again.”

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