Iowa women's cross-country takes only 5 runners on first road trip

BY LEVI LYNOTT | AUGUST 31, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s cross-country team will attend its first meet today, running at the Western Illinois Early Bird Open. However, only five Iowa harriers will participate in the event.

The entire team — including freshmen who will redshirt — usually runs at an early home meet, but there won’t be any competitions in Hawkeye Country.

“We usually have a couple of home meets, but we just couldn’t get anybody to come,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “We usually like a couple of smaller meets to start the season off. And having them at home, you don’t have to travel, and you can run everybody.”

But this season, convenience isn’t the case for the Hawkeyes, so they will take a much smaller number of runners to Illinois. The group will most likely include graduate student Mareike Schrulle, sophomore Kayla Beattie, and junior Megan Ranegar.

“They are certainly three of the best in the Big Ten if they are fit and on their game,” Anderson said. “They can run with anybody in the Big Ten when they are at their best.”

The 10-year head coach also spoke very highly of freshman Lisa Gordon.

“I think she’ll be a star down the line, especially as she grows and matures in her training,” Anderson said.

Gordon, who hails from Western Springs, Ill., seemed excited about the season and competing with her new teammates.

“I’m very excited,” she said in anticipation of her first meet. “These girls are so talented, and I’m honored to run with them. So many of them have accomplished so much and just to be on the same team with them, I think, is helping me tremendously.”

Another bright spot on the team is senior Kelsey Hart, a West Branch native and integrative-physiology major. She also was an honoree of the 2012 distinguished-scholar awards at the University of Iowa.

“She’s just kind of a blue-collar, worker-breed, grind-along runner,” Anderson said.

Hart’s performance in the classroom helps her step into a leadership position when her running shoes are off.

“You just have to figure out what works best for you. You have to be persistent, make a schedule … It’s actually kind of nice to keep a schedule and then stay more focused.”

Hart is a leader of this young team and describes her leadership style as “by example” and a natural occurrence.

“Consistent effort has allowed me to work my way up,” she said. “I started here as a freshman, not one of the top runners, and I just progressed slowly … Now, I’m one of the leaders, and it’s weird having all these freshmen here, but it’s kind of just the natural way things have happened.”

Although only five harriers will race today, the team will participate in the Bradley Open next week in Illinois, which will showcase a much larger number of Hawkeye runners.

“We’ll begin with our top folks,” Anderson said. “[Then] try to get everybody we would consider going forward, to get them started at Bradley next week.”

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