IU cross-country is set to compete at Pre Nationals on Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin, just one day after also taking part in the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will split their rosters to compete in the Bradley Pink Classic on Friday, as the top runners from each side will travel to Wisconsin to race in the pre-national meet.
“Certainly on the women’s side it’s the seven that ran the best at Nuttycombe,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “On the men’s side, it’s pretty much that. I threw Daniel Michalski into the mix as well because we finally got him eligible, so he’ll line up for the first time and get one of those seven spots.”
Michalski, a graduate transfer from Cedarville University in Ohio, received a fifth year of eligibility and is slated to be a top-five runner in his first season with the men’s team.
As for the redshirt freshmen traveling to Illinois, freshman Dustin Horter said he trusts his teammates’ abilities.
“Just go out there, run a PR and make it real smooth too,” Horter said. “Some of these guys haven’t raced for three weeks and their fitness has come a long way since then. We expect to run well every race and I have confidence that those guys are going to go out there and kill it.”
The women’s team is charging into the weekend ranked No. 11 in the country after a seventh-place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. Their national ranking is the highest in program history, thanks to the contributions of veteran runners.
The men’s team is a stark contrast to the women's team in terms of experience. Where the women have multiple juniors and seniors lined up in their top seven runners, the men run freshmen and sophomores.
Only one senior man runs at the front of the pack.
“We’re going back to Pre Nationals to kind of flex our muscles with that top group of people,” Helmer said. “So if it comes down to that, we’ve secured our spot in the National meet. That’s what I would hope to get out of the pre-national meet, aside from the fact that in a large field that’s highly competitive we get to practice a race strategy that should serve us really well.”
Race experience is plentiful for the women's team and it showed against some of the top schools in the nation at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. They’ll attempt to repeat their performance in the Pre National meet, led by seniors Katherine Receveur and Maggie Allen.
The men’s team failed to stick together during their last meet, culminating in a 14th-place finish.
Horter, who has been one of the top runners for the men, said the pre-national meet is about redemption. The men's team has tried to work on its chemistry after struggling at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.
“The training is working," Horter said. "It’s just translating it to the race. We have a really good plan going and a really good team, a lot of guys who work well together. It’s just about getting that consistency down and allowing it to translate over to the race.”
Before the season started, IU had the third-ranked recruiting class of distance runners in the nation. This year has been about growing as a team to hopefully be in a position similar to the women in the upcoming seasons.
“We’re up and coming,” Horter said. “We’re growing and there’s something special in the fact that they have enough confidence to bring in eight to ten freshmen guys and let them develop as a team over the course of four or five years. It’s a new wave and it’s almost a new culture.”
The men are set to ride that wave into the pre-national meet with their goals in mind.
As for the women, Helmer said the women executed the race plan at Nuttycombe extremely well.
“We want to reinforce what the girls did by doing that again, maybe a little better,” Helmer said. “We want to get the guys more comfortable with running as a group and executing the race plan how we envisioned.”
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