Aug 27, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Happy, healthy, physically fit, and fresh -- that is head coach Layne Anderson's motto for the 2013 University of Iowa women's cross country team.
With All-American Mareike Schrulle lost to graduation and just two seniors on the roster, Anderson is counting on nine sophomores and 12 freshmen to apply that motto and realize their potential come championship season.
"If you are happy and healthy," said Anderson, "and you have good overall physical and mental health; your body is in shape; you have done the training; I think then you can make a statement that there is some talent here."
The Hawkeyes return relative experience in sophomores Cindy Saliba and Lisa Gordon. Both athletes competed at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships last season, and freshman Alana Jones says both have accepted a leadership role.
"I look up to Lisa and Cindy because they are 'mommying' us right now," said Jones. "They pick us up, run with us, and keep us focused. It's really nice to have that level of familiarity."
Saliba competed in five meets for the Hawkeyes in 2012 and recorded a 6,000-meters personal best of 21:48 at the Wisconsin Adidas Invite. Gordon owns the 10th best 4,000-meters time (14:17) in school history following her performance at the 2012 Toledo Bubble Buster. Anderson hopes the duo, along with fellow sophomore Courtney Martin, can step up and become names of the future while leading the present-day pack.
"This group will have to rely upon a pack mentality, perhaps running and competing together, rather than relying upon a Mareike [Schrulle] to go up there and get second in the Big Ten, third in the region, and seventh in the NCAA," said Anderson. "The reality is we need them all to make an impact in some way."
Jones, a fifth place finisher at the California state championships in 2012, says she intends to make an impression on and off the course.
"My personal goal is to improve my high school times and become a scoring member on this team," said Jones. "Long term, I want to be a good teammate and help everyone out. This is what I enjoy doing. I want to help the Hawks soar."
Jones is among a group of talented newcomers that Anderson expects to eventually make great strides for the cross country program.
"I believe over time we will see many of the same successes out of this group that we saw out of that McKenzie Melander, Betsy Flood, and Brooke Eilers group," said Anderson. "It is that type of group in terms of the talent, energy, enthusiasm and focus."
The Hawkeyes open 2013 hosting Illinois State at the Ashton Cross Country Course on Aug. 30. They'll then take a week off before hosting the Black and Gold Invite on Sept. 13. Anderson says the home cooking should benefit a young team.
"Any time you run on your home course, even if you are new, there is a level of comfort that occurs," he said. "They will have family and friends here. They will go through their normal routine, and hopefully that translates into a more relaxed state and leads to better performances."
Following the home competitions, the schedule takes the Hawkeyes to Madison, Wis., on Oct. 19, and West Lafayette, Ind., on Nov. 3. The NCAA Regional is contested in Ames, Iowa, on Nov. 15, and Indiana State hosts the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23.