Hawkeye men’s cross-country ready for Big Tens


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The Iowa men’s cross-country team continued to improve during the 2011 season, so a high finish at the Big Ten cross-country championship seemed reachable. But when the time came, the competition was stiff, and the harriers finished at a disappointing 10th place.

“I think the guys who were here last year know it was a poor meet,” head coach Larry Wieczorek said. “They feel it was a poor representation.”

The feeling from last year’s meet is still in the back of the minds of the veteran harriers as the team prepares for this year’s meet.

“This team is hungry to do well,” Wieczorek. “I think they’re ready to run their best race and to improve on last year. They have to run the way they are capable of, which is better than they have run.”

As the Black and Gold prepare again for the championship, the squad’s chances appear to be brighter. Last year, the Big Ten had the second-most ranked teams of any conference.

Now, only three Big Ten schools are ranked: No. 11 Michigan, No. 20 Wisconsin, and No. 24 Indiana.

“For us, it’s still going to be very, very tough,” Wieczorek said. “The Big Ten presents a very tough challenge for us … Unlike a sport like soccer that plays every team during the season, we play everyone on the same day for final standings. A lot is riding on that weekend on how you fare.”

Senior Nick Holmes also expects a tough competition, despite the fact that every Big Ten team (excluding Northwestern, which will not compete) can only enter nine harriers.

“It’s going to be a fast, hard meet,” he said. “The Big Ten is good. It’s a not huge field, maybe 80 to 100 guys, but all those guys are pretty good.”

All the prior meets have essentially led up to this, and Wieczorek said those experiences will help with performing at the championships.

“It really gave us an idea of what Big Ten competition is going to be like,” he said. “We’re prepared, we’ve seen tough competition, and now it’s, can we run our best?”

Even though the team is looked as a foundational team, Wieczorek still expects great things from his runners. They have been doing all the right things, he said, and everything that he has asked of them.

“This team has … one of the best attitudes and a great desire to do well,” he said. “It’s got all the right stuff and down the road in future can do great things. I just hope that future is now.”

Holmes, who placed 43rd last year, also expects a better finish this year.

“Obviously, I’m excited about the team; they’re fit as they’ve ever been,” Holmes said. “Everyone is keeping the faith. We’re right in the mix for a good performance.”

From a disappointing finish last season, Wieczorek said that the thing that is most at stake is pride.

“We don’t want to be 10th or 11th. It’s a pride thing of this year, this season,” he said. “Everyone matters. Every team we beat makes a difference.”

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