Health, mentality huge for Hawkeyes as season begins


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After suffering injuries last season — which contributed to a 21st-place finish in the NCAA Midwest Regional —  the Hawkeye women harriers hope to stay healthy this year.

Head coach Layne Anderson said team health is at the forefront as Iowa gets set to kick off its 2014 season.

“Overall, I just want us to remain healthy as a team and get this group through the season without any significant injuries.” Anderson said. “I’m excited to show what we are capable of; we have a lot of talent here.”

Junior Lisa Gordon hopes this year’s Hawkeyes will train smart and stay healthy throughout the season.

With solid runners returning, senior Shannon Maser shared her coach’s belief, saying Iowa has to stay healthy to be competitive.

Gordon said that preparation for staying healthy began in the off-season and was a focus of the runners during training. Even with the season set to kick off Friday at the Drake Invitational, the team’s mentality hasn’t shifted.

“Last year was a disappointment for various reasons, but this year, we are looking to come out with vengeance,” Gordon said.

Rebounding coexists with the team’s optimism about the season, she said.

“Focusing on staying really positive and keeping high expectations throughout the season,” Maser said. “Cross-country is more of an individual sport, but becoming close with your team really helps.”

The harriers’ ultimate goal is in early November at the Big Ten championships. After finishing 12th last season, the Hawkeyes can literally go no place but up.

For Anderson, that starts with confidence. Entering his 11th year at Iowa, mentality is key for his team’s success.

“We can’t let the doubt rule the day,” he said. “We must continue to quietly develop confidence within ourselves to succeed as a team.”

If that happens, he said, the young Hawkeyes have to be determined this season if they want their hopes of showing the Big Ten what they are capable of accomplishing to come true. Anderson and his team are confident that can happen.

“We are excited for the meets and definitely have the Big Ten meet in the front of our minds,” Maser said. “Everything we do is leading up to that meet.”

For Anderson, the goal is much bigger than a Big Ten improvement.

“We want to include ourselves in the conversations of entering the NCAA championships,” Anderson said.

“We want to represent our school well,” Gordon said. “And we hope to do so by moving up in the rankings.”

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