Iowa women's cross-country prepares for final team race


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The Iowa women’s cross-country team will run in what will likely be its last race as a whole unit on Friday, when the harriers head to Springfield, Mo., for the NCAA Midwest Regional meet.

Although the team will most likely not go to the next round — the national NCAA meet — there is still hope that the Hawkeye’s best runner could be given an individual ticket to run at the championships.

Mareike Schrulle, the second-place finisher at the Big Ten meet on Oct. 28, could gain entrance to run at the national meet as an individual if she can put together a good race this weekend.

“She’s among the best 20 runners [in the country],” head coach Layne Anderson said. “If she runs how she has been, I like her chances of moving on to the next round in Louisville.”

Schrulle, a native of Germany, isn’t trying to change anything in her preparation for a meet at this point in the season. So the graduate student doesn’t seem to be nervous despite the implications the meet has to offer.

“I don’t look at it as my last race for Iowa,” she said. “I try to just look at it as another race, and if I don’t put too much pressure on myself and stay relaxed, I feel like it will work out.”

Hawkeye senior Nicole Benson iterated that the team isn’t changing anything this late in the season before the regional meet.

Benson also seemed confident in her teammate’s chances for a berth in the national meet.

“It’s very likely that [Schrulle] will get at-large points [for the NCAA championships],” she said.

As the season began, the team seemed very optimistic and motivated about a team berth in the NCAAs. But as the season wore on, the team has become depleted because key runners were shelved with a variety of injuries.

Kayla Beattie, the team’s top runner in the early part of the season, was red-shirted after suffering several different injuries. And that was just the beginning.

Megan Ranegar had been hampered by an Achilles injury that wasn’t allowing her to run at her highest level in recent meets. Benson was also battling injuries. As a result, team scores have suffered more and more as the season has worn on.

“It hadn’t been a lack of fitness,” Anderson said. “It’s just been a lack of putting everyone together to form a good meet as a whole.”

But recently, the team has seemed to reestablish a healthy core group of runners. Even though an NCAA championship berth for the team seems unlikely, Anderson believes that the Hawkeyes can put together their best meet yet.

“I hope to see some seasonal bests or lifetime bests for our girls on Friday — that’s a reasonable goal,” Anderson said. “I really think we can give some teams a run.

“I feel like the seven girls we have running right now are all in good shape. The bodies seem to be doing as good as they have been all year.”

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