Senior cross-country runner takes on leadership role in final year


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Senior Jon Michael Brandt, this year’s men’s cross-country team captain, knows what he wants for the team this year after the first meet.

“We’re looking for a really good year, a good finish. The hope is to get everyone to the end of the season,” he said. “We’ve had some disappointment here in the past, at least when I’ve been here.”

The disappointment he refers to is both personal and as a team. Last season, he was Iowa’s best finisher in three of the six meets, but finished 59th at the Big Ten meet and 62nd at the NCAA Midwest Regional. In addition, the team finished 10th and 13th in those meets.

This year the team looks to do even better, with home meets for the first time in two years. With one of those home meets already in the books, the next meet, 6 p.m. Friday at the Ashton Cross-Country Course, will bring a higher level of competition with Alabama and Iowa State coming to town.

Brandt remains focused knowing he has a team full of runners who should step up this year.

“Anyone who is a sophomore and up is really a leader, because you’ve had a year or more of experience,” he said. “I don’t really believe there is one leader; it’s a team thing.”

Even though cross-country is a seemingly individual sport, personal accolades take second place to a team finish, and being a captain doesn’t change Brandt’s mindset.

“It was a very humbling experience to be picked to help guide the team,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was anything that I was striving for, but it was very humbling being selected.”

While the idea of finishing as a team is a very core part of cross-country, head coach Larry Wieczorek said he had his reasons for making Brandt the captain of this year’s team.

“He’s a guy that over the last three seasons has made himself into the captain of the team,”

Wieczorek said. “He’s made himself into a runner who can compete at the Big Ten level. And earn the captaincy of our team.”

Even though Brandt wasn’t a highly touted recruit, his work ethic has propelled him not only to do things on the cross-country team but on the track team as well. He has competed on the track team as a distance runner for the last two years. Both an indoor and outdoor runner, he was a strong competitor at several meets last year, including the Drake Relays and the Big Ten championships.

With another year of training, it only seems to make sense that this last year very well could be Brandt’s best.

“I think we have a really good team,” he said. “Get everyone to the end of the season, and we should have some good results.”

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