Iowa women's cross-country set for Toledo Bubble Buster
The women’s cross-country team will try to make its presence felt at the Toledo Bubble Buster today, which is seen as a highly competitive early season meet.
Coach Layne Anderson feels good about the early season outlook for his team after it has seen successful finishes in previous meets.
“It’s time to get back in action,” he said. “This time of year, we’re running about once every two to three weeks. We ran well at Bradley, so we were excited. We did that, but now we have a chance to see if we’re better than the Bradley version.”
Anderson noted the importance of competing and running against high-level opponents.
“There are other good teams,” he said. “So hopefully, we’ll compete and beat some nationally ranked teams if we run to our full potential.”
The Bubble Buster, in Toledo, Ohio, will have many highly regarded teams in attendance — including several teams ranked in the NCAA’s top 30. Iowa will have the chance to compete with No. 18 Toledo, No. 22 Syracuse, No. 23 San Francisco, and No. 25 West Virginia.
The Hawkeyes will send 12 harriers to the 4,000-meter race, including senior captain Kelsey Hart, who seemed poised when asked about the stiff competition.
“Hopefully, we can keep our cool, but the nerves don’t affect me as much anymore. It’s my fourth time around,” said Hart. “I think everything is going pretty well. We’re healthy, for the most part.”
Another runner who is excited about the competitive meet is Megan Ranegar.
“It’s cool to be going somewhere early in the season that has good competition,” she said. “We get to fly and take a full team of 12.”
Ranegar also noted that the early season meets allows more participants from each team, which makes it a more enjoyable atmosphere and a better traveling experience.
“Later in the season, we have to keep cutting down how many [runners] can travel,” she said. “So for now, the more the better.”
Senior Nicole Benson, who placed fifth at the Iowa Invitational last year, seemed relaxed yet ready for the challenge.
“I think everyone is going into this meet really open-minded,” she said. “It’s still early in the season, and we all know we’re prepared to run fast, especially at this 4K distance.”
Benson, Ranegar, and Hart are part of what is expected to be Iowa’s most competitive pack, which also includes sophomore Kayla Beattie and graduate student Mareike Schrulle.
Benson hopes that this group can compete at a high level and propel one another forward.
“I would really like to run with my group as long as possible and see where I end up,” she said. “Hopefully, we can all push each other together.”
Anderson was excited about the quality of competition and the possible effects that running at the Bubble Buster could have later in the season.
“Last year, we were supposed to go to Toledo, and we opted to go to Loyola,” he said. “We ran really well, but it didn’t factor into the at-large process at the end. If we run well at Toledo, it could help us get into the national meet if we don’t qualify automatically.”
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