Indiana cross country runners who won’t compete in next week’s NCAA Great Lakes Regional championship meet ran in their final race of the year.
IU sponsored the Hoosier Invitational Friday at the IU Championship Cross Country Course.
The top IU runners did not compete and rested for regionals weekend.
IU Coach Ron Helmer said he uses this meet to give closure to the seasons for runners who won’t compete in regionals, especially younger runners.
“We got great efforts out of some young kids who were really inexperienced,” Helmer said. “They’re still out here running really well. This is probably the fastest I’ve ever had true freshmen run.”
No team scores were kept in the competition, which allowed several former IU runners as well as redshirt athletes to run unattached in the race, often to set a pace for the other competitors.
Senior Ashley Seymour was IU’s top women’s finisher with a time of 19:17 to earn her sixth place in the women’s 5-kilometer race. It was her final race as an IU Cross Country runner.
Seymour said she thought she ran her race well and was pleased with how she ended her cross country career at IU.
She will, however, compete in events for the track team later this year.
In the men’s race, freshman Owen Skeete was the fastest IU runner with a time of 25:01 in the 8-kilometer race.
“I thought I ran a very strategic race today,” Skeete said. “Usually I’m more of a person that likes to put it away at the start, but I kind of held back for at least two miles, and after that it was just me settling in and forcing myself to pick it up again.”
Helmer has said he uses this meet as a way to forecast the future of IU cross country due to the unlimited number of entries allowed and the low-key atmosphere of the event.
“We return a large number next year, and we have a large number of people to add to our active roster who have shown me they are going to compete for those top spots,”
Helmer said. “Giving good and competitive efforts is what we take pride in.”
The Hoosiers’ next action will be the Great Lakes Regional on Friday in Madison, Wis., where the team looks to qualify for nationals the following weekend.
But while the future is unknown for those events, Helmer said the long-term future of the program is solid thanks to young competitors like Skeete.
“I think for a lot of them, what I saw was just people competing hard,” Helmer said. “When they can show themselves, as well as their coaches and teammates that they can stick their nose in and compete hard, that’s the ultimate goal.”