Men's, women's harriers should perform


What to know

The Iowa men’s cross-country squad closed its 2014-2015 season on a positive note, despite not qualifying for the NCAA Championships. They hosted the Big Ten Championships last season, with an eighth place finish led by then-senior Kevin Lewis.

Lewis was a standout athlete for the Hawkeyes as he finished sixth at the conference meet along with being named first-team All-Big Ten.  The distance runners also hosted the Big Ten Preview here in Iowa City where four of the athletes clocked top-12 finishes. In its most popular meet of the season, seven runners finished in the top-15.

They also competed at the Midwest Regional, where they entered eighth, and outran their seed, earning seventh place to close its season.

As for the women's team, it finished 13th out of 32 teams at the Midwest Regional — but has a wealth of talent over the next couple of years.

Whom to know

With the loss of two of the team's seniors for the men — Kevin Lewis and Ben Witt — look out for the next upcoming athletes to showcase their talent on the surface. Sophomore Michael Melchert showed up big last season, winning a few races and also staying up with the pack of Lewis and Witt.

In addition to Melchert, juniors Ben Anderson and Kevin Docherty are also athletes to look out for in the upcoming season. Cross-Country head coach Layne Anderson also added 13 athletes to add depth to its distance group.

The women return their four top runners at last seasons regional: Samantha Zishka, Marta Bote Gonzalez, Carolyn Newhouse and Tess Wilberding. All are juniors this season with the exception of Gonzalez, who is a freshman.

Looking forward

Five-of-seven men who competed at regionals in 2014 are back, and will look to put together a season in which they finish in the top half at the Big Ten Championships. Although they placed seventh at the Midwest Regional last season, the losses of Lewis and Witt will be tough to overcome.

The women's team looks strong for the next couple of years, and is almost certainly a lock to finish in the top ten at regionals this season, especially if junior Katie Adams can get her 6,000 meter time under 21 minutes.

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