A 1,000-mile plane ride for a race spanning just a few miles.
That’s what awaits both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams with both squads flying out to Ames, Iowa, for tomorrow’s Iowa State Memorial Cross Country Classic.
The race commemorates the November 25, 1985, plane crash that killed six members of the Cyclones women team, who were flying back to Ames after earning second-place at the NCAA Championships in Milwaukee, Wis.
Women’s head coach Lou Duesing traveled to Iowa yesterday for, among other reasons, the memorial service to be held today. A coach for Missouri at the time of the crash, he knew the victims.
“I’m kind of glad to be back to pay homage,” he said.
The meet, however, also serves as a precursor to next month’s national championships, displaying a field of 66 men’s and women’s schools in the country.
“With very few exceptions, the top 55 [teams] are here,” Duesing explained.
Among the bunch will national powerhouses Stanford, Colorado, BYU, Georgetown, and Villanova, just to name a few.
With each school brining along a contingent of seven runners, the start could be the key tomorrow.
“It’s a huge meet,” Duesing emphasized. “There are going to be a lot of bodies [on the starting line].”
Men’s head coach Nathan Taylor took the more blunt route.
“It’s hell on wheels, there’s no other way to put it,” he said, referring to the start.
Both taking second at the Paul Short Invitational last week, the men and women will need similar performances tomorrow in order to improve their chances of earning bids to the NCAAs. 31 berths are handed out, 13 of which are given to at-large schools. And the criterion that the selection committee puts the most stock in is head-to-head competition.
Duesing will be entering senior co-captains Meredith Freimer and Kim Chatman, juniors Halle Watson and Lena Matthews, sophomores Carlan Gray, as well as freshmen Stephanie Sharp and Jessica Parrott.
“All seven have done a very good job of [working] together in practice,” Duesing noted.
Everyone not competing in Iowa will run at Buffalo.
“We really just want to race hard,” Freimer asserted, rather than giving numerical expectations.
But Duesing didn’t hesitate to quantify what he wants the team to do.
“If we finish 30th in the pack, that’s pretty doggone good,” he explained, picking that number because it would put the within the number of NCAA bids.
As for the men, senior co-captain Colin Moore and classmate Wyeth Koppenhaver, juniors Max King, Geoff Van Fleet and Dan Meehan, sophomore Dan Dombroski, and freshman John Corely will be competing.
“It’s unrealistic to expect that we’d finish in the top-8 or -10,” Taylor noted, though leaving all spots after that as fair game.
Matt Gallagher, third for the Red last week, is missing due to injury.
“Hopefully we’re going to run an intelligent race,” Talyor said, adding that he wants his to runners to “pick off people in the last mile or two who haven’t run smart races.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj