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Running through Big Ten history

BY SHELBY STITES | OCTOBER 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa cross-country team has proven to be a contender and not just another contestant throughout the years of the Big Ten championships. While looking back on Hawkeye history, it has shown the constant pride of wearing the Black and Gold.

Diane Nukuri is a name that will forever be remembered as a cross-country legend in Hawkeye history. Not only was her career one to remember while she attended Iowa, but it was also remembered as she competed in two Summer Olympics.

In 2007, she won the Big Ten Championships as a senior by shattering the previous record that took her team to a 10th place finish at the NCAA Championships.

"I'm very excited about winning the Big Ten, but now I have to put it behind me and move on," Nukuri said in a 2007 release after winning the individual Big Tens.

In 2007 Nukuri became the second Hawkeye awarded the Big Ten Athlete of the Year. Tracy Dahl Morris earned this honor earlier in 1992 as a Hawkeye that made the history books.

This proved to be a special year in that it not only put Iowa back on the map for women’s cross-country, but also placed a standard of what it would take to become a Hawkeye runner. However, the Hawkeyes have not earned a top-5 finish since Nukuri graduated after her 2007 win.

Iowa has only won one Big Ten Championship throughout its history. In 1982 the Hawkeyes placed the fourth-highest winning team score in Big Ten history while competing in Iowa City.

The Big Ten Championships have been held in Iowa City four times and this year the event makes its way back to the Hawkeye state for the first time since 2004.

After the Hawkeye win in 1982, Wisconsin went on to achieve 6-consecutive 1st place finishes. The Badgers have had six Big Ten Championship wins through the years of 1983-1988 and again through 1995-2000. These wins have helped the Badgers in holding the record for the most consecutive Big Ten Championship wins.

Seven Big Ten teams have been first-place finishes throughout the 100 years the championships have been held. Teams include Wisconsin (14), Michigan (8), Michigan State (6), Indiana (2), Minnesota (2), Penn State (1), and Iowa (1).

Despite their last place finish in 2013, the Hawkeyes have been making long strides towards recapturing the programs success of the 1980’s under the leadership of head coach Layne Anderson.

He always prides himself in his runners that wear the Black and Gold. He has never lost sight of preparing his team for the race with the most meaning, the Big Ten Championships.

“That’s definitely what he stresses,” current sophomore Samantha Zishka said in 2013. “He always says we don’t need to be in our top shape right now. And that’s OK, because the ultimate goal is the Big Tens, and that is when our performance really counts.”

But the past always finds a way to repeat itself as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Cross-Country Championships. For Iowa, this can prove to either benefit the Hawkeyes or be a negative contributor. The Hawkeyes are ready to add their past to the history books as they wait for their mark in history on Sunday.

“I always say that those who have the greatest preparation are the ones that ultimately end up running the best,” Anderson said in 2013.

Follow @shelbystites on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s cross country team.


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