Hawkeye harriers use past races for NCAA Midwest Regional


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The men’s cross-country team will travel to Springfield, Mo., for the NCAA Midwest Regional today in hopes that it won’t be the last meet of the season. The top two teams and four individuals from other teams will move on to the NCAA meet on Nov. 17.

The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 13 in the Midwest Region, and they will be up against a tough competition, including top team Oklahoma State and No.8 Oklahoma.

For head coach Larry Wieczorek it’s not necessarily just about beating the top teams but rather having his athletes run at their best. Then, they can hopefully beat some of the higher ranked teams.

As opposed to a regular-season 8,000-meter meet, the Midwest Regional boasts a 10K race. The harriers feel confident going into the race knowing that they’ve been training for this 10K all year.

Many of the veteran runners use their experience at the regional meet as lessons as they prepare for today’s competition. Junior Jon Michael Brandt has learned that patience is the key.

“A 10K is a long race,” the Winona, Minn., native said. “It can take a lot out of you if you go out too hard.”

It’s also important for the Hawkeyes to get into position before the race starts to pick up speed when the field starts to separate, Brandt said.

The Big Ten meet, held on Oct. 28, also are significant as the runners prepare. After that race, Wiezcorek had his harriers write down the expectations they had for themselves in the race and why.

Then they reviewed the video of the race to see where they can improve. From the eyes of the coach, consistency is what the team lacks.

“I would say we’re going to try to learn what we can from the Big Ten,” Wieczorek said. “A couple of us ran well at the Big Ten, some ran well earlier. We didn’t run well collectively. Most everybody has run a good race this year. If we can put those races collectively together, we’ll achieve success.”

The Midwest Regional is potentially the last race of the season for the harriers, and it will be important for the Hawkeyes to go out fighting.

“Put it all out there knowing when you walk away that that’s it, and you will be satisfied with yourself with that,” Brandt said.

Last time around, then-junior Jeff Thode was Iowa’s only harrier to receive an NCAA berth.

Classmate Nick Holmes was just short of qualifying with an 18th-place finish.

In the beginning of his senior season, Holmes said it was his goal to get to nationals as a team and to do better than his previous season by earning All-Regional, All-Big Ten, and All-American honors.

The head coach said one of the things Holmes will have to do differently this time around is to keep contact with the top-20 guys. Holmes, who is a good finisher, said it will be important for him to keep contact during the first six miles.

In order to achieve the status of All-American, he will have to qualify for the NCAA meet and then go on to place in the top 40.

“That would be huge with all the injuries I’ve had,” he said. “It would be a big comeback, and I think I owe it to Wiz, to myself, and to the University of Iowa.”

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