The IU cross-country team will face its first Big Ten competition at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on Friday.
The Hoosiers are coming off a trip to the Meet of Champions in New York two weeks ago. The team endured a tough week of training in preparation for its upcoming meet.
“We’ve worked well," IU Coach Ron Helmer said. "I think we’re tired right now, but we’ve worked really well. I have no complaints at all with this group. They give me whatever they have. Hopefully, we can not only go into the race feeling well, but also come out of it feeling pretty well.”
The Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational will have early implications for the NCAA Championship in November. IU is set to compete against multiple nationally ranked teams including Big Ten opponents Wisconsin and Michigan State.
IU boasts a pair of ranked teams as well. The men come into the meet ranked No. 28 in the country, while the women are ranked No. 20.
“We’re excited for it,” junior Kyle Mau said. “It’ll give us a chance to see where we are relative to those teams and being in that environment will be really good for us.”
Last season, the Hoosiers had a rough outing in this competition as the men placed 29th and the women placed 17th.
“Having the experience and being able to learn from what might not have worked last year, and being able to change it for this year I think will serve us well,” Mau said. “Going in there knowing we belong with those teams, and executing how we did at New York will allow us to have a better outing this time.”
This season, both teams have freshman contributing to their early-season success, alongside established seniors.
The men’s team is led by Mau, but behind him are freshmen Reese Jordan and Aaron Bennett, who both ran in the team’s top five this season. On the women’s side, freshman Sarah Schmitt contributed in previous meets among a team that puts four seniors in position to score every meet.
The Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational introduces the first large-scale meet of the season for the young runners, and the team has stayed optimistic about their success.
“A lot of us just like to lead by example and if they just kind of go with the flow and do what we do, then it’ll be exactly what they need to do,” senior Haley Harris said. “It’s helpful that they can stick to somebody who is in their workout group, who they practice with every day."
The Wisconsin Badgers will play host to four races on Friday. The meet kicks off with the women’s B 6K race that is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., followed by the men’s B 8K at 11:40 a.m.
At the conclusion of the first two races, the championship races will start, featuring the top teams from each program. The women’s championship 6K will start at 12:20 p.m. The men’s championship 8K will begin at 1 p.m. to close the meet.
These races are vital for points that contribute to positioning in the NCAA Championship meet at the end of the season. IU will run towards the challenge head-on, allowing them to gauge their standing not only in the Big Ten, but in the nation.
“There’s a whole lot of season left, but we have to run well this weekend,” Helmer said.