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Cross country Big Ten Championship preview

BY MARIO WILLIAMS and SHELBY STITES | OCTOBER 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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Men’s team

With fierce competition facing the Iowa men’s cross-country squad in the Big Ten meet on Nov. 2, Iowa head coach Layne Anderson believes his team is its own competition.

“Our greatest challenge is ourselves,” the head coach said.

The squad will compete against 12 Big Ten schools, including ranked Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Last season, the Hoosiers took the crown at the Big Ten championship, and the Wolverines finished second, followed by the Badgers, Gophers, and Illinois.

Wolverine head coach Kevin Sullivan is in his first year coaching the team, and the squad is ranked 14th. The head coach surely isn’t underestimating each squad’s vulnerability coming into the Big Ten matchup.

“Everyone brings strong teams to the event,” Sullivan said. “We can’t take anyone too lightly.”

Sophomore Ben Anderson, who led the team in the squad’s last meet [Pre-National Invitational] has thoughts similar to Sullivan’s about the tough competition.

“Everyone is an opponent out there for us,” the Clive native said. “We have to attack everyone and be on our game.”

Michigan State is ranked No. 22, and Spartan head coach Walt Drenth is gearing his runners to focus on managing themselves.

“It’s a sporting event that doesn’t really involve making adjustments based on what other people are doing,” the head coach said. “You just kind of have to maximize yourself, and that will be our objective.”

Women’s team

The Big Ten is a cross-country powerhouse of 14 teams that all share a common goal: to become champions.

Five of these teams are ranked in the top 25: No. 1 Michigan State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 19 Ohio State, and No. 20 Minnesota.

“We are focused on all schools as it is the Big Ten championship, and the goal every year is to finish ahead of as many teams as possible,” Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said.

Sophomore Erin Finn of Michigan will try to win her second-straight individual championship. She won this year’s Big Ten Preview on Sept. 20 and was three seconds short of beating the Ashton Cross-Country Course 6,000-meter record.

However, one runner does not determine the outcome of the race. The Spartans will have their eyes set on their second-straight championship this weekend; they are the favorite to come out on top.

This will be the Spartans’ first time racing in Iowa City this season.

Wisconsin will be coming in ranked third in the Big Ten. The Badgers went up against Michigan State and Ohio State on Oct. 17 at the Adidas Invitational. Their fourth-place finish put them in the top 10 in the NCAA polls.

Ohio State has earned three of four top 10 finishes in meets ran this season with two of those being first place, respectively. Minnesota has also been able to place in the top ten six out of the seven times of competition.


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