IU cross country competed in the 2020 Big Ten Championships on Saturday at the Blue River Cross Country Course in Shelbyville, Indiana. The event had been postponed from its original fall date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After finishing second and eighth respectively in last season’s Big Ten Cross Country Championships, the IU men’s and women’s teams finished second and fourth this year.
“We’re a much better team than we were a year ago,” head coach Ron Helmer said about the women. “We’re solid up front, Bailey is really good, Sarah is really good.”
The championships featured two events: a 6000-meter race for the women and an 8000-meter race for the men.
On the women’s side, the Hoosiers were led by junior All-American Bailey Herternstein, who placed second overall with a time of 20:15.2. Hertenstein finished just two seconds behind the champion, Minnesota’s Bethany Hasz.
The women also recorded several other strong performances, particularly from the sophomore duo of Sarah Schmitt and Jenna Barker. Schmitt finished in tenth place with a time of 20:46.5, while Barker clocked in at 21:21.2, good for 28th place overall.
Several other runners, all underclassmen, turned in impressive performances for the women, including sophomore Maddie Dalton, freshman Gracie Sprankle and sophomore Mikaela Ramirez.
Dalton finished 29th with a time of 21:21.8, Sprankle came in at 32nd with a time of 21:29.0 and Ramirez, who finished 34th, recorded a time of 21:31.8.
“It was a really solid day,” Helmer said. “I thought they were up to the challenge.”
The men had a great deal of success in their 8000-meter race, with five runners finishing in the top 13.
Senior Ben Veatch, who finished fourth at last year’s Big Ten Championships, led the way with an eighth-place finish, recording a time of 24:18.2.
“Coming off an injury and only training the past month, I’m taking the positives and moving on,” Veatch said. “Going into any Big Ten Championship I expect to win.”
The men’s team also received a boost from their younger runners, with three of the five top-13 finishes coming from sophomores. Matthew Schadler, Jake Gebhardt and Sklylar Stidham placed at ninth, tenth, and thirteenth, respectively.
Schadler clocked in at 24:19.1, while Gebhardt came in at 24:20.5. Stidham recorded a time of 24:22.9. Junior Arjun Jha finished eleventh with a time of 24:21.6. Jha finished twelfth at the event in 2019.
“The young guys ran phenomenal,” Veatch said. “It was a great run from the team as a whole and definitely something we are excited to build on. Getting second is always bittersweet.”
IU sent one athlete, junior Hope Purcell, to Champaign, Illinois to compete in the women’s indoor pentathlon at the Illini Big Ten Multi-Meet.
Purcell finished 12th in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 9.45 seconds, third in the high jump with a height of 1.64 meters and ninth in the shot put with a distance of 10.51 meters.
Purcell did not participate in the final two events of the meet, the 800-meter and the long jump.
The Hoosiers will return home to Jack Gladstein Fieldhouse at 11 a.m. next Saturday, Feb. 6, for the Hoosier Hills meet against schools including Purdue and Wisconsin.