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Men’s harriers happy with Big Ten performance

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

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The Iowa men’s cross-country squad hosted the Big Ten championships Sunday and as a team, the Hawkeyes finished eighth, led by senior Kevin Lewis’ sixth-place finish.

Lewis finished with a career-best and joined Iowa’s first-team All-Big Ten selections. The senior’s time of 23:52 ranks eighth all-time in school history.

“I’m glad I’m finishing the season good,” the Ottumwa native said. “I’m glad that I was able to get back out there and have a good race.

The senior endured a knee injury a few weeks ago, which caused him to miss out on opportunities to train and compete. Iowa head coach Layne Anderson believes the senior showed his true colors at the Big Ten matchup.

“My hat goes off to him. He ran fantastic,” he said. “He didn’t have the best few last weeks, but he didn’t let that impact his mental outlook and his desire to stay in that lead pack.”

Fresh off his injury, the senior felt vigorous in the beginning stages of the race. Toward the end of the 8,000 meters Lewis found it a challenge to maintain where he was.

“Everything with the injury was good,” he said. “My knee didn’t bother me at all throughout the race.
“The first couple meters I tried to keep us somewhat grouped up, in a good spot. The last 1,000 meters was miserable. It was hard trying to hold on and stay where I was.”

Despite Lewis leading the pack, the senior believes pack running could’ve been a bit better.

“We were packed up good until 3,000 meters,” Lewis said. “We lost contact a little bit close to 5,000 meters.”

The second-best performance came from senior Ben Witt, who crossed the line at 24:24 to earn a 34th place. His head coach believes he ran his best cross-country race ever, and he achieved a personal record.

“I thought he did well,” Anderson said. “Its hard to ask more from a guy when they get a PR and run as well as he did.”

Seven other runners competed in the 8,000-meter race. Senior Sam Fourman (71/25:18), sophomores Kevin Docherty (44/24:39), Anthony Gregorio (50/24:46), Ben Anderson (68/25:15.4), Daniel Huff (70/25:15.8), and Nate Ferree (95,26:10). Freshman Michael Melchert clocked a time of 25:06 to earn a 64th place.

Unlike Lewis, Docherty felt pack running went well in this weekend’s matchup.

“We were just missing a fifth man today, which won’t be an issue come regionals,” he said.

Following this weekend’s meet, the sophomore believes the team is fully prepared for the remainder of the post-season.

“We know that we are very capable of qualifying for nationals after seeing how we competed today,” the St. Paul, Minnesota, native said.

Eleven other Big Ten schools competed in the meet. Wisconsin took the crown, Michigan finished second, followed by Penn State, Indiana, and Michigan State.

Sophomore Michael Schrobilgen won the race for the Badgers. The sophomore broke the course record for the second time of his collegiate career, crossing the line at 23:35.

Overall, Anderson believes his team performed well. The head coach is wants the team to compete against the same fierce competition at the regionals next week.

“This team is good enough to beat some of those teams,” he said. “Hopefully, we can finish off what’s been a good solid year with hopefully our best race.”

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


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