Cool temperatures, soft ground and adequate weather delivered great conditions on the Zimmer Championship Course, but Indiana cross country was unable to capitalize and produce the results they had hoped for Friday in Madison, Wisconsin.
Indiana cross country placed 26th in the women’s 6K race and 21st in the men’s 8K race at the Nuttycombe Invitational.
“I was expecting much more, and we’re capable of much more,” head coach Ron Helmer said. “It’s disappointing, but leaders have to step up, and we’re not getting a lot of that.”
Helmer said the teams made the same mistakes as in their last meet at the Joe Piane Invitational on Oct. 1. The teams have the talent to compete at high profile events, he said, but it has not translated into competition yet.
“It’s fine to look good in workouts, it’s fine to want to do it, but you’ve got to line up and compete,” Helmer said. “Is that on me? Is that on them? I think it's probably a collective failure to go out and be prepared, whether it's physically or mentally.”
Senior Arjun Jha was a bright spot for the Hoosiers and delivered the best finish from either team, placing 25th in the men’s race with a time of 23:49.7. Through the first 2,000 meters of the 8,000 meter race, Jha was in 69th place.
“He just kept moving up and he did exactly what we would have expected the group to be able to do,” Helmer said. “Not that everybody’s going to end up 25th, but certainly you would have hoped that they would have been able to move up some from their original positioning.”
Jha said the experience he’s gained across his college career allowed him to run with confidence, making meets like Friday much easier.
“The first bit of the race is a little crazy, everyone gets out really fast and then you start to see who’s really in the race,” Jha said. “I think part of moving up was that people just started falling back and I just kept doing my thing, kept running hard.”
After Jha, seniors Ben Veatch and Jake Gebhardt were next across the line for the Indiana men, finishing 91st and 115th respectively. Gebhardt was immediately followed by sophomore Gabriel Sanchez in 116th and the final scoring runner for the team, junior Austin Haskett in 136th.
Senior Sarah Schmitt crossed the line first for the Hoosier women with a time of 21:16.7 to finish 97th. Sophomore Mariah Wehrle finished next for the Hoosiers in 119th, followed by junior Mikaela Ramirez in 129th. Seniors Maddie Dalton and Hannah Stoffel rounded out the five scoring runners for the team at 166th and 176th, respectively.
In the women’s race, No. 3 New Mexico University scored first out of 36 teams of which 18 entered the meet ranked. West Virginia University’s Ceili McCabe finished first overall in the 6K with a time of 19:57.4.
Wesley Kiptoo finished first overall with a time of 23:11.2 to help No. 6 Iowa State University win the men’s portion of the meet. Of the 32 teams competing in the 8K, 17 entered ranked. Neither Indiana team was ranked in the latest poll release.
Indiana’s next meet is the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 29 in University Park, Pennsylvania.