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Harriers set for stiff competition

BY MARIO WILLIAMS | OCTOBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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With more competition coming up in the Iowa men’s cross-country team’s first big meet of the season, Iowa head coach Layne Anderson expects his runners to race well alongside nationally ranked teams.

The squad will travel to South Bend, Indiana, today to race at the Notre Dame Invitational. The men are set to run at 5 p.m. The squad competed well at the Big Ten Preview two weeks ago, with four runners finishing in the top 15.

Senior Kevin Lewis finished on top for the team, which ended up in third place.

“I’m doing the same type of things to get ready for these bigger meets,” Lewis said.  “Just slightly less volume to feel a little bit fresher.”

The squad had intense workouts last week at the Ashton Cross-Country Course to help prepare for today’s meet. This week, Anderson focused more on light running and weightlifting.

“Everyone’s training looks great,” he said. “I think their minds are in the right places, their bodies are adequately prepared, and we’re going to make sure we’re fresh and ready to race.”

Senior Ben Witt, who finished in 11th place at the Big Ten Preview, is ready to show what the Hawkeyes are capable of.

“I try to keep calm, but there’s also an excitement to show everyone what we can do as a team,” he said. “The team is ready to take a big step forward and put ourselves on the national radar.”

Despite the squad competing in their first big meet of the season, Witt is comfortable that he will run well.

“This meet is much bigger than our first three but I’m comfortable on that big stage, having been there before,” the senior said. “I’m expecting to race well. All indicators are that I’m ready to run faster than I ever have before, and this is the meet to do it.”

Sophomore Ben Anderson, who finished in eighth at the Big Ten Preview, stresses the importance of the squad running as a pack. The sophomore believes there is no room for mistakes.

“We really have to run well as a team. [An] emphasis on pack running, and if we perform well, great things will come,” he said.

Sophomore Kevin Docherty will run in his first full meet of the season. He ran only 6,000 meters out of the 8,000 at the Big Ten Preview. He is coming off an injury — he suffered an aggravated Achilles training for the U.S. Junior Championships. Docherty doesn’t believe he’s at his top fitness level but will make the best out of today’s meet.

“It’s been tough to be training with my teammates, who are in such good shape while I’m playing catch up,” the St. Paul, Minnesota, native said.

Twenty-three other teams will run alongside Iowa, including three from the Big Ten — Michigan, Purdue, and Penn State. Other strong teams are New Mexico, Butler, Princeton, and Indiana State.

Lewis looks forward to seeing where the squad matches up with competitive teams.

“This will be the deepest meet for competition,” the Ottumwa, Iowa, native said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to run against all of these teams in the same meet and see where we fit into things.”

Follow @marioxwilliams on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s cross-country team.


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