Anderson confident cross-country team will find success despite youth


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The upcoming season for the Iowa women’s cross-country team is full of optimism and uncertainty.

The team graduated seniors Nicole Benson, Kelsey Hart, and graduate student Mareike Schrulle, who capped off a record-breaking season last year by finishing seventh overall at the NCAA meet in Louisville, Ky., and earning All-American honors. Schrulle was the fourth top-10 finisher in the last six years at Iowa.

But that’s not to say that the Hawks won’t have anyone to pass off the torch to this year. Returning for their last season are seniors Lena Placzek and Shannon Maser. Placzek, a native of Poznan, Poland, wants to improve on her college- and team-best 2:16.54 in the 800 meters, while Maser hopes to find the same success she had last spring when she had two top-ten finishes.

Sophomores Jocelyn Todd, Rachel Price, and Courtney Martin plan on stepping up to the plate to provide some veteran leadership for their younger teammates.

“I actually don’t know what to think of this season yet,” Martin said. “Last season, we had pretty divided groups. We had a lot of good returners who were All-Regional and All-American, and this year we have a really, really young group, and our top returners coming in are our fifth, sixth, and seventh runners, so we’ll be relying pretty heavily on the freshmen.”

And young might be an understatement with an roster of 12 incoming freshman with some of the top recruits in the state.

Freshman Katie Adams is a three time all-state selection from Illinois and a four-time all conference and state champion in the 1,600 meters.

“I’m really excited coming in as a freshman,” she said. “I feel like the sky is the limit with what I can do, and I’m just trying to keep a positive mindset right now. We’re a young team, but coach keeps emphasizing running with the pack and running with the mindset to do our best in every practice and meet.”

The Hawkeyes will open the outdoor season at home Friday with the Hawkeye Early Bird Invitational at 6 p.m. for their first of two-straight home meets.

Layne Anderson —now in his 10th season at the helm of the women’s team — would like to continue the success the Hawks had last year. During his tenure, Anderson has coached six All-Americans, a Big-Ten champion, and 17 All-Region honorees.

“We’re optimistic,” Anderson said. “We had an outstanding recruiting class, and we had some individuals last year who really progressed during their time here either last year or in years past. It’s a young group, but there is some talent there.”

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