Hawkeye men's harriers disappointed with fall season


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The men’s cross-country team was filled with youth and also the desire to succeed at the beginning of the 2012 season. As the harriers prepared for the upcoming season, they set high, but realistic, goals for themselves.

Placing 13th at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet was not one of them. Disappointment was apparent in the athletes as well as head coach Larry Wieczorek.

He knows that his harriers did not have their best performance on Nov. 9.

“We are a better team than we showed that day,” the 26-year coach said. “Different times of the year, we’d have bits and pieces of it, but we were not able to put it together.”

Jon Michael Brandt felt the same, even after crossing the finishing line first for the Black and Gold. The junior said he was pleased with how he began the race, but he had expected a higher finish from himself.

“I thought I was in a lot better position than I was,” Brandt said. “I thought I had a lot better; it showed just how deep the competition was this year.”

The regional meet opened Brandt’s eyes; he has more work to do, although he has time to improve his running. He also said the team learned that the level of competition in the NCAA had gone up.
“We thought we knew what it took,” he said. “You might be working 110 percent on workout days, but there’s always someone working harder than you. You have to get out there and work more.”

Both Wieczorek and Brandt reflected on the performances of the season as a failure to meet their expectations. Despite the progress that was made throughout the past couple of months, Brandt believes that he fell short of his goals.

The harriers’ determination and willingness did exceed Wieczorek’s expectations as a process that he said he enjoyed every day.

“I end the season feeling that I have a good foundation for the future,” he said. “I just really like this group of guys. Where they met [expectations] was in attitude, in terms of their desire, and doing everything I asked them to do.”

Since the beginning of the season, Brandt has seen a great transformation in the team, especially with the younger runners.

“A lot of them were true freshmen, and that’s tough,” he said. “When we went to Pre-Nationals, that’s really hard, and the younger [runners have] definitely shown that they are ready to step up — all of them have their own breakthroughs.”

Senior Cameron Rieger said will miss most the team aspect of cross-country season. Rieger, who still has a year of eligibility left, said he would not return for a fifth season, even though part of him would like to.

“It’s a very fun group; everyone is very close,” he said. “It’s bittersweet that I only get a season with some of these younger guys.”

With track season approaching, Brandt said he expects a lot more out of himself and that the goal is to make Iowa’s distance program prominent.

Wieczorek hopes the work his distance runners have done during the season will prepare them to have a chance for success in the track season. The head coach hopes they’ll use their disappointment from the cross-country season as fuel for future success.

“It’s important when you don’t have success that you stick together, pull together, encourage each other, and continue to work on becoming an outstanding distance runner,” he said.

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