Two approaches, two different results. IU cross-country saw its women’s and men’s team have two race plans at the Nuttycombe Invitational with mixed results.
The Hoosier men finished seventh in Madison, Wisconsin, showcasing a new strategy of patience. Senior Kyle Mau had one of his best races of the season — placing 10th — and was briefly in second with under a kilometer to go in the race.
The Hoosier women placed 15th overall, led by sophomore Bailey Hertenstein, who finished 16th. The Hoosiers went out fast with both their top two runners, as did the pack of the rest of the pack. Hertenstein was unable to stick with the top group in the race as she fell back around the halfway point.
IU worked together on the back end where five Hoosiers ran together the whole race. Senior Kelsey Harris placed 105th and led that pack which included two freshmen.
“We do our best to run as a group,” Harris said. “Therefore we could kind of feed off each other’s energy. Some of us found each other and worked together to move the best we could.”
Sophomore Sarah Schmitt was second for IU in 58th. The Hoosiers looked to pick up at-large points in order to qualify for the NCAA National Championships, but the performance left the team empty handed.
“We probably went out a little faster than we needed to,” Harris said. “One thing we will definitely be working on going forward is making sure we are moving up, not backwards towards the end of the race.”
A patient mentality for the Hoosier men was a greater success. After going out fast at the Joe Piane Invite two weeks ago, the team was patient for the first half of the eight kilometer race.
“Going into the race we made sure we packed up,” senior Bryce Millar said. “We worked as a pack to move up and stay as relaxed as possible so we were the fastest team over the last 2,000 meters.”
Going up against five of the top-10 teams in the nation, the 15th ranked Hoosiers were one of the fastest down the stretch. Mau surged forward to grab a top-10 finish with fellow senior Ben Veatch right behind him in 17th.
Sophomore Arjun Jha continued to sit at third for IU in 69th. Sophomore Matthew Schadler, running his first competitive race, showcased IU’s depth as he placed 109th.
The Hoosiers finished ahead of the University of Notre Dame and Wisconsin, two Great Lakes region rivals, to solidify their standing as a team that will be in Terre Haute, Indiana, next month for the national championships.
“We proved that we can be competitive with anyone in the Big Ten and the nation,” Millar said. “Later on in the postseason, we are going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
However, the one Great Lakes regional team that placed in front of IU was Purdue. In one of the Boilermakers’ best seasons in program history, they will go into Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 3 as the Big Ten favorites.