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Goodbye cross-country, hello track and field

BY MARIO WILLIAMS | NOVEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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To call the situation the Iowa men’s cross-country squad finds itself in at the end of the 2014 season positive would be an understatement.

The Black and Gold competed at the Midwest Regional Nov. 12. Entering the meet, the squad was ranked eighth, and outran its seed, earning seventh place to close its season. Despite not qualifying for the NCAA championships, overlooking the success the team has had this season is a tough task.

Sure, the squad may have missed out on a few opportunities here and there, but it was breakthrough performances through the season that outshone the missed opportunities.

It was performances such as sophomore Ben Anderson winning the first race of the season [Bulldog 4K Classic], senior Kevin Lewis leading the team to a first-place finish at the Illinois State Invitational — with six other runners earning spots in the top 15. Those accomplishments came in addition to the squad finishing second at the Big Ten preview where four runners clocked top-12 finishes and earning a sixth place spot at the Big Ten championships. Furthermore, one can’t overlook Lewis’ groundbreaking comeback from an injury where he finished sixth at the conference meet along with being named first-team All-Big Ten.

It was performances such as these where the squad made its mark on numerous cross-country courses.

“There were a lot more good things,” Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said. “It’s always a disappointment when the season ends and you don’t advance to the NCAA championships. But we accomplished a lot and made a lot of progress. It was for sure a lot more positives to take out of the year.”

Ben Anderson believes the team competed well through the season and was pleased with where they finished.

“We put some of our best efforts out there,” he said. “It was just fun all season to get out there and grind daily with the guys. I love all of them and this cross-country season was fun.”

Lewis, who has run in Black and Gold for four-consecutive years, noted this was the best team finish he’s been a part of.

“This was definitely the best season I’ve had for cross-country, even though I didn’t quite finish the way I wanted to,” the Ottumwa native said. “This overall season I’ve ran the fastest times I have ever run, so it was a pretty good season.”

Although the season is now over, Iowa’s passion for running doesn’t end. Members of the squad will now gear up for the track and field season.

With two honors under his belt from cross-country, Lewis won’t stop going into the season.

“Being a medalist is one of my main goals,” he said. “There are also a few school records that I know are in reach.”

Transitioning from cross-country training to track doesn’t take much. The squad will now train indoors and hit the weight room frequently.

“Getting strong should hopefully get us to running more faster,” Lewis said. “This is a time where we can work more harder because we don’t have any meets.”

Carrying momentum from the cross-country season into track and field is a goal Iowa’s head coach hopes the squad will attain.

“Lifetime-best performances from everybody is an objective,” he said. “We want the best performances possible.”

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


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