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Iowa cross-country's Gordon made last-minute choice

BY LEVI LYNOTT | SEPTEMBER 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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Wisconsin had its eye on distance runner Lisa Gordon, and the Illinois native was all-but-set to start her college career on the Badger campus.

But then she got a phone call.

It was Layne Anderson, the head coach of the Iowa cross-country team. He asked her a question: “Would you like to come run for the Hawkeyes?”

Although the Hawkeye women’s cross-country team got in touch with Gordon a little late, the Hawkeyes still had incentive and history with Gordon. Anderson was able to lure her onto the Iowa campus, and she eventually signed on with the team.

And now, as the cross-country season starts to heat up, Anderson is happy he was able to persuade Gordon to become a Hawkeye — even if it was at the last second.

“We got connected with her somewhere in April,” Anderson said. “Real late in the recruiting process. But certainly I think she’s a great addition, and we’re pretty excited. Weather it was April, May, December, I think it will turn out great for us.”

Gordon said there were several reasons to make the shift across the Midwest. Even though Gordon’s eyes seemed to be set elsewhere, Iowa showed interest. She got individual attention from Anderson, who has led three teams to finish in the top 25 in the nation in the past six years and produced 48 All-Americans in his nine years with the Hawkeyes.

It isn’t hard to understand why she was attracted, but Anderson’s accolades weren’t the only selling point Iowa had in its favor.

The young harrier has important connections to the UI. Gordon’s mother is a Hawkeye graduate and so is her Lyons Township high-school coach, former Iowa All-American Stetson Steele, who ran on the men’s cross-country and track teams.

But her ties to Iowa don’t stop there. Gordon ran with a high-school teammate, Katherin Rehn, who is now in her third season at Iowa.

Rehn, who ran with Gordon on a 4x800 relay that placed fifth in the Illinois state tournament in 2009, said she didn’t beg or pressure Gordon into coming, but she’s happy to have the freshman talent along for the run.

“Obviously, I didn’t pressure her [Gordon] into coming here,” Rehn said. “I think it was good because she knew I was happy here, I was an example that it’s a good fit and she could fit in here as well.”

Gordon later stated a similar story about her relationship with Rehn and how that affected her choice in committing to Iowa and joining the women’s cross-country team.

“She never pressured me to come here at all, but seeing the success she had here and knowing that she never had anything bad to say about it [Iowa], I knew that it would be a good choice.”

Other notable reasons for Gordon making the decision to come to Iowa were her impressions of Anderson, as well as the high expectations that Iowa holds in her current academic interests.

“My major is speech and hearing science, and Iowa is one of the top in the nation for that major, so that was definitely a positive,” Gordon said. “Also just Coach Anderson’s training philosophy and the team atmosphere sold me.”

The excited Gordon stated the seeming simplicity of her recruiting process by saying, “I guess the rest is history because I chose here.”


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