Preparation for the uncertain key for Hawkeyes cross country


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Most of the student-athletes at Iowa have an idea of where they stand as far as playing time and who will start for their next meet or game.

Cross-country is a rare exception to this rule.

“It changes,” red-shirt sophomore Jocelyn Todd said. “It depends on what kind of a meet it is. If it’s a road meet, we usually know a little earlier. If it’s at home, there is typically a little more flexibility. Hopefully, we know three to five days ahead.”

There are 23 women on the cross-country roster, and NCAA rules state schools may only run eight women in a dual meet. This number is fewer depending on the number of schools competing. The only thing that’s for certain is that the list of competitors for the Hawks is always in flux.

The team will have its second and final home meet at 6 p.m. Friday on the Ashton Cross-Country Course.

“I think it can be frustrating sometimes,” Todd said. “Sometimes, they’ll have a limit to how many people we can take, so it can be difficult. If someone is higher in rank than someone but is on the border of going, or if you’re the person who is next in line, it can be kind of tricky, worrying about am I going or am I not.”

Luckily, the Black and Gold have an effective way to combat this uncertainty.

“How we practice and how we have performed in past races are usually what determines it, so we just train and prepare every day for the race as if we were going to race,” sophomore Gina O’Brien said.

Ask people who have talked to head coach Layne Anderson or witnessed one of the Hawkeyes’ workouts, and they will tell you that from start to finish, it’s all team, all the time and that decisions on who runs or doesn’t run are based solely on performance or current medical status. Still, that doesn’t make it any easier.

“A lot of the times, the decisions are medically related if we’re dealing with some misfortune or bad luck, but there are definitely times when you have to make some tough decisions about whose going to be the last to race and the first person not to race,” Anderson said. “ Right now, it’s pretty clear, so luckily, there hasn’t been a whole lot of controversy.”

Anderson, a man with more than 20 years of cross-country experience, knows that athletes need to be ready to go on a short notice.

“There are some mixed feelings about [when we tell the women] that they will be going,” he said. “Sometimes, we think they should know as early as possible; however, other times, there are situations where it comes down to the last day or so.”

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