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Q&A: Women's Cross Country coach Layne Anderson

BY LEVI LYNOTT | AUGUST 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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Daily Iowan: How has this sport changed since you first started coaching at Iowa?

Layne Anderson: Certainly it has changed, but I would, rather than ‘change’, use a term like “improve.” We’ve found ways to make our program better in everything we do. We’ve got great athletes, which we’ve always had, but perhaps more than we once had. We have better facilities; we have better resources that we can offer our student-athletes today than when I showed up in 2003.

The landscape, in terms of distance training at the collegiate level, has just gotten so much better over the past five or six years. There has been a big running boom in the U.S. at the professional level, and it’s carried down to the collegiate level and even at the high-school level relative to the past.”

DI: Your next season is coming up, so how would you compare last year’s team with this year’s?

Anderson: If you knew nothing about our team [last year] and just got a scouting report and had never watched them run, you would think, “Wow, Iowa certainly had a fantastic team last year and the year before,” relative to our lifetime best performances and what people have done. But I think the results would tell you we felt short of our potential for various reasons.

We didn’t quite finish as high as we expected to finish in at the Big Ten Tournament; we certainly felt we would make the national meet, and we fell short of that finishing fourth in the regional. That wasn’t a deal of neglect or people not focusing, we just couldn’t get ourselves on the right path as it relates, doing everything we need to do to be the best of ourselves.

And then with this year’s team, we have three ladies that we would expect to run at the front of most any pack at the collegiate level. That’s exciting, because we have three of the five scorers right there who have proven success at this level.

We’ve got a great supporting cast. Experience with [seniors] Nicole Benson, great experience with Kelsey Hart. They’ve been through the Big Ten wars.”

“A Nicole Benson, a Kelsey Hart, are those people who are going to emerge and step out of the shadows a little bit and become high-visibility people in our program in terms of running big [personal records] and placing well at the Big Ten championships.”

DI: And the rest of your roster?

Anderson: They appear to be individuals, right now, who can help us going forward as the season progresses. And then we have several freshmen whom we’re excited about: Courtney Martin, Lisa Gordon, and Cindy Saliba are three freshmen by appearance seem to be individuals, right now, who can help us as the season moves forward.

There are some unanswered questions there, as to who becomes the No. 4, the 5, the 6, 7, 8 and how that order shakes out. More likely it will be like a jigsaw puzzle. It may be a different person each time at the 4th, and in two weeks, maybe she is at 6, and somebody else flies up. I think there will be some moving around, and someone may even step up and challenge our first three.”


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