With high expectations, the IU cross-country team kicked off their season Saturday at the Indiana Open.
IU won both races by a comfortable margin, as Hoosier runners dominated the leaderboard, and all healthy Hoosiers were given an opportunity to compete and get closer to racing form against Tennessee Tech.
The girls ran first, and fifth-year senior Brianna Johnson stole the show. Before the race, IU Coach Ron Helmer called her someone to watch, and she proved him right, winning the girls 5,000 meter run with a time of 18:18.97.
“It was a positive experience and showed me that all my hard work this summer paid off,” Johnson said.
She said everyone looked fit and did well.
“On the girl’s side, the way we ran and the order we finished was fairly predictable and was probably a pretty good indicator of where we are,” Helmer said.
One runner who impressed Helmer was freshmen Haley Harris, who finished fourth.
IU was considering redshirting her, but Helmer said she proved she was ready in the Indiana Open.
Other runners who had strong showings included redshirt sophomore Madison Stenger, who finished second, and freshman Maggie Allen, who placed third.
The men’s side was less predictable, and the results were confusing, Helmer said.
“If we would have predicted the order of the race, we would have been completely off,” Helmer said. “None of it makes any sense, which tells me we are probably not doing what we are supposed to.”
Helmer said the reason for the results was some of the runners who were working the hardest in training were the most tired when it came to the hot and humid meet.
Fifth-year senior Owen Skeete won the 8K with a time of 25:48.41. Helmer said it was exactly what he expected from a runner of Steeke’s age and maturity.
“I haven’t won any workouts for the past three weeks, so I didn’t know I was going to finish first,” Skeete said.
Skeete said he thought the biggest improvements he made were due to him beginning his weight training earlier and changing his diet.
Joshua Roche, another fifth-year senior, finished third behind redshirt sophomore Jeremy Coughler.
“As a team, all these young guys are coming up out of nowhere, and Josh and I know it’s not going to be done when we leave,” Skeete said.
Also running in the Indiana Open were women alumni from the 1990-91 team, celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
Amy Mason, Kathy Ayers and Esther Asplund were the alumni runners, while many others were also in town for the weekend, Helmer said. On Friday night, the alumni went to Nick’s English Hut, and Helmer said it was a fun night.
“It was great to meet them and hear all their stories,” Johnson said.