All the news from Division I Mens and Womens Track.

Rebekah Topham-Griswold-Wichita St.
©Shocker Athletics

Topham MVC Freshman of the Year as Shockers Place 2nd at Conference

Rebekah Topham-Griswold-Wichita St. ©Shocker Athletics

Rebekah Topham-Griswold-Wichita St.
©Shocker Athletics

Wichita State’s men’s team tied for second with Illinois State while Bradley won the team title in the 8K race Saturday morning at the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country meet at the Angel Mounds Historic Site. The women’s team also finished second to pre-meet favorite Bradley in the 5K race.

Courtesy Shockers Athletics

The men’s 8K team title was won by pre-meet favorite Bradley, 67-78, while the individual champion was Indiana State’s John Mascari who won with a time of 23:39.06. Illinois State won the tie-breaker against Wichita State to earn the runner-up trophy.

 

The women’s team title was won by Bradley, 54-76, over Wichita State, while the individual champion was Bradley’s Caitlin Busch in 16:54.20.

 

Wichita State’s men were led by Brady Johnson’s 11th-place finish in 24:25.72, while Ugis Jocis followed close behind in 12th with a time of 24:32.98. Both were named MVC All-Conference Honorable Mention.

 

11095Wichita State’s women were led by Sidney Hirsch who finished seventh in the 5K race in 17:18.79. Rebekah Topham was eighth in a time of 17:18.87. Both earned First Team All-Conference honors and Topham was named the MVC Freshman of the Year.

 

Men’s Scores
1. Bradley, 67; 2. Wichita State/Illinois State, 78; 4. Indiana State, 93; 5. SIU, 145; 6. Loyola, 146; 7. Drake, 164; 8. UNI, 171; 9. Evansville, 318.

Wichita State Men
11. Brady Johnson, 24:25.72; 12. Ugis Jocis, 24:32.98; 16. Kyle Larkin, 24:38.24; 19. Paul Raymond, 24:48.17; 20. Dray Carson, 24:49.87; 24. Gage Garcia, 24:59.32; 25. Nathan Wickoren, 25:02.56; 34. Reno Law, 25:26.02.

Women’s Scores
1. Bradley 54; 2. Wichita State, 76; 3. Illinois State, 94; 4. Loyola, 102; 5. Indiana State, 107; 6. Drake, 122; 7. UNI, 169; 8. Missouri State, 247; 9. SIU, 294; 10. Evansville, 305.

Wichita State Women
7. Sidney Hirsch, 17:18.79; 8. Rebekah Topham, 17:18.87; 16. Kayla Deighan, 17:38.90; 18. 17:41.55; 27. Emilea Finley, 17:56.48; 41. Paige Wells, 18:27.42; 42. Jordan Maestas, 18:29.12; 50. Sarah Wright, 18:44.30

Kate Buckman-Minnesota
©Gopher Sports

Minnesota Alum Buckman Receives the NCAA Student-Athlete-Sportsmanship Award

Kate Buckman-Minnesota ©Gopher Sports

Kate Buckman-Minnesota
©Gopher Sports

Kate Buckman is the daughter of former head track and Field Coach at Northern Iowa prior to becoming head track coach at Arkansas. 

Minnesota women’s cross country and track & field alum Kate Bucknam (’15) is one of four NCAA student-athletes who has been honored as a 2014-15 NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award recipient, the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct announced today.

Courtesy Gopher Athletics

While competing in the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Championships, University of Minnesota senior and co-captain Kate Bucknam noticed a fellow runner, Baylor University freshman Annie Dunlap, stumbling toward the finish line. Bucknam joined with Dunlap’s teammate Madie Zimmerman to assist Dunlap in finishing the race.

“I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to help a sister in my sport out,” Bucknam said. “Every runner in that race sacrificed so much…and I know all of us had a rough race. The least we deserved was to finish, and I wasn’t going to finish without her.”

Bucknam completed the race as Minnesota’s sixth runner in her NCAA championship debut. Following the season, she was awarded Minnesota’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award and was the recipient of an Outstanding Sportsmanship Award from the Big Ten.

The Fayetteville, Ark., native graduated from the University of Minnesota last spring with a degree in kinesiology. She is currently attending graduate school at Lipscomb University and is competing for the Bisons in her final season of eligibility.

Bucknam joins Hunter Hulley, who competes in men’s track and field while studying art at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls; Bailey Kent, who competes in women’s tennis while studying biology and Spanish at St. Olaf College; and Sebastian Stiefelmeyer, who competed in men’s tennis and majored in economics at the University of Louisville, in receiving the 2014-15 NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award.

Sportsmanship is one of the core principles of the NCAA. These awards honor the efforts of college athletes and administrators who work to protect the integrity of sports and create an even and welcoming playing field for all athletes and fans.

Kelsey Kirchoff-Denver-UNI
©Doug Wells

Panther’s Kirchoff Set’s #2 6K Mark at Bradley

Kelsey Kirchoff-Denver-UNI ©Doug Wells

Kelsey Kirchoff-Denver-UNI
©Doug Wells

Kelsey Kirchoff continued her outstanding junior campaign, running the second fastest 6,000 meter time in UNI history at the Bradley Classic today.

“Kelsey put together one of the best races in school history tonight,” head coach Dave Paulsen said. “She’s finding ways to push herself to new levels every time she goes out on the course and when you can do that, big things will happen.”

Courtesy Panthers Athletics: Photos ©Doug Wells

The Denver, Iowa native placed 14th overall out of 267 runners in the women’s 6K, turning in a time of 21:01.50. It was a huge personal-best for Kirchoff and kept her in the top-15 in the race for the fourth time this season.

Callie Matthews finished second for the Panthers, setting a new personal record of 22:08.90, burning almost a minute off her previous best. Ashley Norem came across the line third for UNI, also notching a PR time of 22:11.80. Rounding out UNI’s top-four finishers was Tara Jackson, who turned in a personal-best time of 22:27.00.

On the men’s side, Trai Bunch grabbed a top-40 finish in the 8,000 meter race, placing 35th overall. His time of 24:48.80 tied his previous best, keeping him ranked 20th all-time at UNI.

Ben Fick scored a course personal record for the Panthers, running a time of 25:10. Coming in third for the UNI men, Dylan Eigenberger ran a time of 25:13.20 while Shane Kirchoff followed shortly after with a PR time of 25:13.70.

“We had a lot of personal-best performances tonight which is what you want to see this time of season,” Paulsen said. “We need to continue to work on tightening our spread across the board to give our team more depth as we head into the MVC Championships.”

The Panthers will return to action on Oct. 31 when they travel to Evansville, Ind. for the MVC Championships.

Ben Anderson-WDM Valley & Michael Melchert-Monticello
©Hawkeye Athletics

Hawks Set Collegiate Bests at Bradley

Michael Melchert-Monticello-Iowa ©Hawkeyes Athletics

Michael Melchert-Monticello-Iowa
©Hawkeyes Athletics

Eight Hawkeyes on the University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country teams clocked collegiate-best times at the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois, on Friday. The men’s team (112) finished five points behind Nebraska (107) to place third overall, while the women (214) came in seventh.

Courtesy Hawkeye Athletics
“I thought we competed well as a team and the individuals who had personal bests took great steps forward in their career,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “I think they are now starting to believe what I’ve been telling them all year, and that is we can be an outstanding group.”
The Hawkeyes’ top three finishers on the men’s side raced to lifetime bests in the 8,000 meters. Sophomore Michael Melchert saw a 52-second improvement when he crossed the line in 24:14.1 to finish third, respectively, while senior Anthony Gregorio (24:19.7) edged out junior Ben Anderson (11th/24:20.6) for the 10th spot.

Juniors Taylor Soltys (42nd/24:58.2) and Kevin Docherty (46th/25:01.2) concluded Iowa’s scoring.

“On the men’s side, the top three certainly set the standard,” Anderson said. “We have five or six guys in the next pack that are certainly capable of running with them. We need to get at least two of them to cut the gap down; it’s been our Achilles heel all year. Most, if not all, should race — or at least be within 15 to 20 seconds — of our top finishers. If we do that, it will be hard to ask for much more out of this group.”

The women’s team continued its momentum this season when its five point scorers posted career-best efforts in the 6,000 meters.

Sophomore Madison Waymire (17th/21:08.8) was Iowa’s top finisher followed by junior Tess Wilberding (24th/21:16.9), freshman Andrea Shine (44th/21:40.2), sophomore Kelly Breen (63rd/21:50.8), and sophomore Alana Jones (66th/21:52.1).

“The women took a nice step forward and are feeling better about their season,” Anderson said. “We’ve been racing like we’ve been training. They did some nice things at Notre Dame and are continuing to build some good momentum.”

The Hawkeyes have a two-week break from competition in preparation for the Big Ten Championships in Evanston, Illinois, on Nov. 1.

“We will use this time to get race sharp, rested and refreshed for the Big Ten Championships, and continue to build confidence,” Anderson said. “We have individuals who are in outstanding shape; they just need to get out there and race how they train.

“We need to compete, act like we belong, believe we belong, and run personal-best performances at the conference meet. If our top five run personal bests on both sides regardless of the outcome, it’s hard to ask for much more than that.”

ISU Women
©Micael Scott

Cyclone Women 7th at Adidas Invite

Abby Caldwell-Waverly Shellrock-ISU ©Michael Scott

Abby Caldwell-Waverly Shellrock-ISU
©Michael Scott

The No. 8-ranked Iowa State women’s cross country team ran to a seventh-place team finish Friday at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. The Cyclones finished ahead of 13 nationally-ranked programs in what is considered the nation’s most competitive regular season cross country meet.

Courtesy Cyclone Athletics: Photos©Michael Scott

The Cyclones were led by Perez Rotich and Erin Hooker, both competing in their second meets of the year. Rotich was Iowa State’s top finisher once again, as the junior raced to a 23rd-place finish in 20:12. Hooker crossed the line a second later to take 24th in 20:13.

Rotich (23rd) and Hooker (24th) made Iowa State one of six teams to place two runners in top-25 in today’s race.

Redshirt freshman Abby Caldwell was the third Cyclone to finish and once again proved she will be an important factor for the Cyclones as postseason competition rolls around. Caldwell clocked a time of 20:34 to finish 57th.

Maryn Lowry and freshman Becky Straw rounded out the ISU scoring effort, as Lowry finished 81st in 20:48, followed by Straw’s 98th-place finish in 20:58.

Iowa State stayed in steady position throughout the race, remaining in the top 10 at each split, before eventually rising to seventh, where they would finish. The Cyclones’ strong performance came without 2013 All-American Bethanie Brown, who was sidelined for today’s race.

Next Time Out
The Iowa State women return to the course Oct. 31 in Stillwater, Okla., at the 2015 Big 12 Championships. The Cyclones will be looking to take home their fifth-consecutive conference crown.

Team Results
1. New Mexico – 32
2. Arkansas – 186
3. Virginia – 215
4. North Carolina State – 238
5. Providence – 262
6. Boise State – 271
7. Iowa State – 283

Individual Results ‘A’ Race
1) Allie Ostrander, Boise State, 19:20; 23) Perez Rotich, Iowa State, 20:12; 24) Erin Hooker, Iowa State, 20:13; 57) Abby Caldwell, Iowa State, 20:34; 81) Maryn Lowry, Iowa State, 20:48; 98) Becky Straw, Iowa State, 20:58; 111) Andrea Toppin, Iowa State, 21:07; 145) Kate DeSimone, Iowa State, 21:24;

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Missouri
©Jim Kirby

Mizzou’s Schweizer Top 30 at Pre-Nationals

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Missouri ©Jim Kirby

Karissa Schweizer-Dowling-Missouri
©Jim Kirby

The Tigers had their final regular season meet on Saturday (October 17), as they took on a national-caliber field at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational in Louisville, Ky. Serving as the course preview for the national championship meet next month, both teams faced off against some of the top-ranked programs in the country. Highlighting the day for the black and gold was sophomore Karissa Schweizer, who rose to the competition and placed 30th in the elite field.

Courtesy Tigers Athletics

The day began, though, with the men’s race, where the duo of junior Jordan Cook and sophomore Marc Dubrick were back at the helm for the Tigers. The pair have been an exciting 1-2 punch for Mizzou in three of their four meets this season. Cook led the way with a 61st-place finish, crossing with his second 8k PR this season (24:04.90). Dubrick was not far behind in 79th overall with a final crossing of 24:12.90.

Juniors Dan Roe, Luca Russo, and Ian McGinn rounded out the top five for the Tiger men.

The women took the line next for their 6k race where, from the gun, Schweizer claimed her spot in the front part of the field. The sophomore was 30th across the line in a meet that boasted eight of the top-ranked programs in the U.S., crossing just off of her PR in 20:33.40.

Junior Teylar Adelsberger was next through for the Tigers, continuing her break-out season with another 6k PR (21:19.50). Fellow-junior Nicole Mello was third, followed by freshman Kelli Jackson and sophomore Ellyn Atkinson, who earned the final PR of the day with her 22:02.30 finish.

Thus ends the final regular season meet weekend of the year, as the Tigers now look forward to the SEC Championships, hosted by Texas A&M in College Station on October 30. For the latest on Mizzou Cross Country, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on Twitter @MIZ_TrackField.

WOMEN’S RESULTS
Team – 33rd (767 pts.)
30. Karissa Schweizer, 20:33.40 // 130. Teylar Adelsberger, 21:19.50 // 182. Nicole Mello, 21:39.40 // 201. Kelli Jackson, 21:44.20 // 243. Ellyn Atkinson, 22:02.30 // 288. Sam Garrett, 22:31.50 // 300. Jamie Kempfer, 22:50.0

Iowa State Cyclones
©Michael Scott

Cyclones Turning Toward Youth

ISU Coach Andrea Grove McDonough  ©Jim Kirby

ISU Coach Andrea Grove McDonough
©Jim Kirby

One of the greatest mysteries in women’s cross-country this year has been how Iowa State will stack up against the elite teams in the nation.

©Iowa State Daily 

Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational should provide an answer. The meet will feature 20 of the top 25 teams in the country, including No. 1 New Mexico.

The Cyclones entered the season as one of the favorites to win this year’s NCAA Cross Country Championship in Louisville, Ky.

But after losing Crystal Nelson, its top runner from a season ago, and trying to work All-American Bethanie Brown back to health, the team has found itself on a downward slope in the rankings, dropping to No. 8 in the most recent U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association poll.

“We’re not feeling the pressure,” said redshirt sophomore Erin Hooker. “[We’re] just keeping the focus at practice and not taking time outside of practice to get caught up in [the rankings].”

Just like at practice, the team kept its focus on the meet at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville two weekends ago.

The loss of Nelson and the uncertainty surrounding Brown left ISU coach Andrea Grove-McDonough relying on her younger, more inexperienced runners to step into a bigger role. As a result, the team’s lineup for the Louisville Classic had an unfamiliar appearance.

Out of the top five runners to finish for Iowa State, no more than two had ever competed together in the same meet.

But it didn’t take long for the group — one freshman, a redshirt freshman, a redshirt sophomore and two juniors — to build chemistry on the course.

The time differential between junior Perez Rotich, the first-place finisher for Iowa State, and junior Maryn Lowry, the fifth-place finisher, was 25.84 seconds, which is the second lowest differential between its first and fifth runners for the team this season.

The contributions led to a second-place performance for Iowa State at the meet.

“As a team, we did really well,” said redshirt freshman Abby Caldwell, who finished 20th overall at the meet. “I was really proud of our team, and we’re still growing and continuing to get better.”

Caldwell, who said she didn’t initially expect to have this big of a role this season on the team, credited Grove-McDonough with relieving the pressure on the young runners.

“I think coach does a really good job with our team and me,” Caldwell said. “She has a cool way of going about the pressure, and she gets us ready [to compete].”

While the Louisville Classic two weekends ago didn’t answer Grove-McDonough’s question of how well the team can compete against the best schools in the country, it provided reassurance that a strong finish to this season is still within reach.

Grove-McDonough said a group similar to the one that competed in Louisville will take the course Friday in Madison, Wis.

The Cyclones will also use a similar strategy Friday that spurred much of their success last season when competing in meets with a deep field of runners: Running together in a pack in an attempt to build off one another during the race.

“Having a good performance at Wisconsin will translate to these races coming up, just bring that energy moving forward, so it’d be really great if all of the girls can have a good race,” Hooker said. “This field is bigger and a lot more competitive [than Louisville].”

Madison Waymire-DCG-Iowa
©Michael Scott

Waymeir Continues to Pave the Way for the Hawks!

Madison Waymire-DCG-Iowa ©Hawkeye Athletics

Madison Waymire-DCG-Iowa
©Hawkeye Athletics

The University of Iowa men’s and women’s cross country teams travel to Peoria, Illinois, for the Bradley Pink Classic on Friday. The men toe the 8,000-meter start line at 4:25 p.m. (CT), while the women’s 6,000-meter race begins at 5:05 p.m. The event is hosted at the Newman Golf Course on the campus of Bradley University.

IN THE RANKINGS
The Hawkeye women are slotted at No. 15 in the United States Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association regional polls.
LAST TIME OUT
Three Hawkeyes — sophomores Madison Waymire (17:22.7) and Kelly Breen (18:19.4), and freshman Andrea Shine (18:21.2) — recorded personal bests in the women’s 5,000-meter race at the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 2. Waymire was Iowa’s leader, finishing 47th overall. Sophomore Michael Melchert was the top finisher of the men’s team in the five-mile race (61st/24:46.8).

WAYMIRE CONTINUES TO PAVE THE WAY
Sophomore Madison Waymire is the first Hawkeye to lead the team in at least three races in a single season since All-American Mareike Schrulle in 2012. The Grimes, Iowa, native captured two top-five finishes in the first two outings this season and improved her 5,000-meter time by 30 seconds at the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 2.

NEW YEAR, NEW DYNAMICS
It still remains a race to the front for the Iowa men, who have had three different frontrunners in as many outings this season (Fr. Ian Eklin/Early Bird Invite; Sr. Anthony Gregorio/Illinois State Invite; So. Michael Melchert/Notre Dame Invite). Last year, the Hawkeyes were consistently led by All-Big Ten honoree Kevin Lewis.

CAPTAINS REMAIN CONSISTENT
Junior captains Ben Anderson and Tess Wilberding have been among Iowa’s top three finishers in every race this season. The pair tallied two top-15 finishes at both the Early Bird Invitational and the Illinois State Invitational, and finished second for Iowa at the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 2.

PREP FOR B1G CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Bradley Pink Classic is the second run-in for the men’s team at the 8,000 meters prior to the Big Ten Championships on Nov. 1. Senior Anthony Gregorio holds the team’s season-best time (25:07.3) at that distance following his ninth-place finish at the Illinois State Invitational on Sept. 11. Friday is the first encounter for the Iowa women at the 6,000-meter distance this season.

THOUGHTS FROM HEAD COACH Layne Anderson
“We are excited to compete and readily assess our fitness. Our focus is to run at a level reflective of our training and progress with positive momentum in preparation for the championship portion of the schedule.”

UP NEXT: BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Hawkeyes head to the Big Ten Championships on Nov. 1 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

The 1985 ISU Cross Country NCAA National Championship Runner’s Up Team, shortly after the race in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Nov. 25, 1985. Front row: Tami (Colby) Prescott and Julie Rose. Back row: (left to right) Charlene (Letzring) Elyea, Sharyl Maahs, Bonnie Sons, Sue Baxter and Jill (Slettedahl) Winter. ©Bonnie Sons

30th Anniversary of the Tragedy of the 1985 Iowa State Women’s Cross Country

The 1985 ISU Cross Country NCAA National Championship Runner’s Up Team, shortly after the race in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Nov. 25, 1985. Front row: Tami (Colby) Prescott and Julie Rose. Back row: (left to right) Charlene (Letzring) Elyea, Sharyl Maahs, Bonnie Sons, Sue Baxter and Jill (Slettedahl) Winter. ©Bonnie Sons

The 1985 ISU Cross Country NCAA National Championship Runner’s Up Team, shortly after the race in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Nov. 25, 1985. Front row: Tami (Colby) Prescott and Julie Rose. Back row: (left to right) Charlene (Letzring) Elyea, Sharyl Maahs, Bonnie Sons, Sue Baxter and Jill (Slettedahl) Winter. ©Bonnie Sons

Dave Mable and the Iowa Momentum Magazine published the story below in honor of the 30th anniversary of the tragedy of the 1985 Iowa State’s Women’s Cross Country Team

The van rumbled toward the deep woods of northern Wisconsin. Inside sat the 1985 Iowa State women’s cross country team, all lean limbs, ponytails and laughter, legs tired from several days on the road with half of their summer training camp behind them.

Coach Ron Renko painted his signature “runner girl” on the roads for the Iowa State Cross Country Team to follow on training runs while at training camp in northern Wisconsin during his tenure at ISU from 1979 to 1985.

Driving down narrow gravel roads, used primarily for logging the dense forests that define the area, the van edged closer to its destination. The veterans of the team knew what was ahead. To the new girls on the team, however, anticipation of the final stop built with each turn.

Upon arriving at a remote clearing of land owned by Head Coach Ron Renko, the girls piled out after their long, bumpy ride.
What they found was a small hunting cabin, a wooden platform for a tent and a primitive outhouse. A nearby pond served as the only water supply.

“At the time, I thought it was kind of miserable,” said Tami Colby Prescott, then a freshman from Boone. “But looking back, that’s where we really bonded as a team.”

While at the camp, sleeping on cots, chopping firewood and boiling water to drink were all part of Coach Renko’s plan, in addition to the twice-a-day training runs.

“Everything he did was planned and purposeful,” said Prescott about her new coach. “We really became a family that week, and you just learned to trust him. He knew what he was doing by taking us up there.”

Renko began his stint as head coach of the ISU Women’s Cross Country Team in 1979 and by 1985 had led the team to two conference titles and one AIAW National Championship.

AIAW National Track Meet. May 27-29, 1982 at Texas A&M

“Ron was always an upbeat, very positive person,” said Coach Bill Bergan, past ISU men’s track and cross country coach. “He was always helpful and completely dedicated to coaching, very loyal to his athletes and liked by all — a great friend.”

The week at camp was part of Renko’s plan. He knew that the challenges faced in the North Woods would be as instrumental in building a cohesive team and strong individuals as any training program. Many of the training runs began with a long drive in the van. Eventually, he would stop, let the girls out and point the way back.

Along the way, every corner was marked with his signature “runner girl,” a pony-tailed stick figure that pointed the way. She became as much a member of the team as any of the girls, a welcome sight painted on the gravel roads, a reminder that they were not alone and were on the right track.

During camp, the team became a family. With each year, a new mix of women would join the team, and training camp brought them together, made them feel at home and gave them grounding for the rest of the season.

“When I stepped foot onto the ISU campus, I knew no one,” said Bonnie Sons, who grew up in Minnesota. “Once school started, after camp, I knew there would be some familiar faces. It was comforting to know that I would be surrounded by friends at practice and in the dorms. The team just had this cohesiveness that you couldn’t have without training camp. It created an instant bond, life-long friends.”

During that season, the Iowa State team saw success from all of its runners: Jill Slettedahl, Bonnie Sons, Sue Baxter, Julie Rose, Sheryl Maahs, Charlene Letzring and Tami Colby (Prescott). Ranked in the top-10 nationally, the team won duals and invitationals through the fall.

Heading into the Big 8 Championship, (predecessor to the Big 12), they were expecting to win. Nebraska had other plans and came out a few points ahead, winning the conference title. At districts, the team looked past that disappointment, believed they could win, and did. That victory earned the team a trip to the NCAA National Championship meet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Nov. 25.

While not expected to finish any better than sixth, the team believed differently.

“Ron (Renko) just had this way of motivating people and getting us to believe that we could do anything,” said Sons. “He connected with us runners, and we trusted him and believed we could do it. He taught us that if the team has belief in each other, then we’ll see success.”

Sheryl Maahs (middle runner) and Julie Rose (third runner) run through the cold at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships on Nov. 25, 1985. ©Iowa State University archives.

Sheryl Maahs (middle runner) and Julie Rose (third runner) run through the cold at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships on Nov. 25, 1985. ©Iowa State University archives.

On a cold, windy day with snow covering much of the 5K course, the team of seven nervously prepared for the race.
“It was so cold,” said Prescott. “We were trying to figure out how to wear tights, yet let our shorts show so we would meet the uniform requirements.”

Families of the runners lined the course, driving to the meet from all around the Midwest to cheer on the entire team. The two runners from England, Sue Baxter and Julie Rose, were adopted by the rest of the runners’ families. Baxter’s coach from England had even made the trip to watch her run.

The team exceeded all expectations that day. Sons and Slettedahl earned All American status by finishing in the top 30. Baxter finished just behind in 32nd, and the next three finished close to each other in the forties. In all the team scored an impressive 98 points, finishing as runner-up in the most competitive meet of the year.

“Everyone ran really well that day,” said Prescott. “Several of the girls ran personal bests that day, even in those conditions. It was really amazing.”

“Placing second was more than we hoped for,” said Sons. “All the girls ran well, but the team placing foreshadowed what any of us did individually.”

“I remember when we got done running we went for a cool-down run, and we had no idea how we’d finished,” continued Prescott. “When we were running, an assistant yelled to us “You guys gotta get back here, you got second!” We were thrilled; we had no idea.”

A quick picture was snapped by Son’s mother, and the team packed their gear for a trip home. It was the last the team would ever be together.
Three planes were waiting at the airport, and pilots were anxious to get in the air, for the weather was poor at their destination in Ames. While members of the men’s team and a few of the girls headed off to the airport, two coaches, a student trainer and three runners stayed for the trophy presentation.

The first two planes were loaded and rumbled into the skies to head home. A short time later, the third plane did the same. Into it went the trophy, accompanied by Coach Ron Renko, Assistant Coach Pat Moynihan, student trainer Stephanie Streight and runners Sue Baxter, Julie Rose and Sheryl Maahs.

Because of the bad weather, freezing drizzle and fog, the planes were diverted to Des Moines. Landing safely, the first two unloaded the passengers, who now stood waiting in the terminal for their coaches and friends, eager to celebrate as a team, their second-place finish.

“Five minutes turned into 10,” said Bergan. “Then 10 turned into 15. Finally, the news came that the third plane had crashed just north of the airport. Shocked, we prayed for any good news, but none was to come. It was a terrible bus ride to Ames. A horrible night.”

On the approach to the Des Moines Airport, pilot Burton Watkins radioed that they were experiencing turbulence, then went quiet. Dropping through the trees and into the yard of a west side neighborhood, the plane came to rest, upside down in two front yards on Country Club Boulevard, just north of Grand Avenue, killing all aboard.

News of the tragedy spread quickly, though incomplete. Driving home after the meet, Prescott’s parents heard of the crash on the radio but did not know if it was the plane their daughter was aboard.

“My parents heard it on the news but didn’t know if I was alive,” said Prescott. “They finally pulled into a state trooper station, and they helped track me down in my dorm. There were no cell phones in those days, so it was really difficult to communicate. They drove straight to Ames to pick me up. It was a long, difficult night.”

Spread throughout the country for Thanksgiving break, the surviving members of the team would not come back together until the following Monday, a week after the accident. The entire Iowa State community mourned the loss of students, athletes and coaches. On Dec. 4, a memorial service was held and more than 5,500 packed the seats of Hilton Coliseum to honor Renko and the others.

In an effort to help, men’s coach Bill Bergan proposed leading the women’s track and cross country teams until a replacement for Renko could be found.

“I felt it would be best for the men’s coaches to work with the women’s team,” said Bergan. “It seemed we could better serve the women’s team and all the issues there would be. I think it was the best scenario for healing.”

Bergan and the other coaches worked hard to pull the women back together, help the mourning student athletes deal with the loss of their friends and coach, and return their focus to studies and training.
“The rest of my time at Iowa State was kind of a fog,” said Sons. “The plane crash was so traumatic that running just wasn’t as important to me. I realized that, wow, there are way more important things than running.

“I just didn’t have the success my senior year as I had in my junior” continued Sons. “I was just going through the motions. I think it affected me much more than I really thought it did then. It was a really big thing for a 20-year-old to go through.”

“I’m sure this brought the team together — closer,” said Bergan. “It made the team want to help each other after going through such a tragedy. They were there to support each other. The program really lost someone in Ron, but we really worked to carry on the tradition of success he brought to the university.”

Today the surviving teammates continue to keep in touch. Sons and Prescott continue to run and recently completed the Dam to Dam half marathon together. They keep in touch with Ron Maahs, brother of Sheryl, and exchange emails with Baxter and Rose’s family in England.

The tradition of hard work and dedication that Renko brought to both Sons and Prescott continues in their children. Elyse Prescott is a top high school runner for the Urbandale cross country team, currently ranked No. 1 in the state and plans to run in college. Sons’ oldest daughter ran distance in college, qualifying for the NCAA Cross Country National Championships several years in a row.

“Even that was bittersweet,” said Sons, still carrying the weight of 1985. “I couldn’t help but be ecstatic for her, but I had the horror of my NCAA memories. That day has been near and dear to my heart, and I think of it often. I think it has made me appreciate and value people more. At 20 years old, it was easy to take each day for granted, but this has helped me cherish each day.”

Tami Prescott agrees. The pain and memories continue to be near.

“My heart especially aches — now with a daughter that age — I just can’t imagine losing her,” said Prescott. “They were all really special. Great friends, incredible people who touched a lot of lives. I was blessed to know them.”

Madison Waymire-DCG-Iowa
©Michael Scott

Waymire and Newhouse Lead Hawks

Carolyn Newhouse-Linn Mar-Iowa ©Michael Scott

Carolyn Newhouse-Linn Mar-Iowa
©Michael Scott

University of Iowa sophomore Madison Waymire is one of three point scorers for the Hawkeyes to record a lifetime best in the women’s 5,000-meter race at the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday.

Courtesy Hawkeye Athletics:Photos ©Michael Scott
Waymire (47th) crossed the line in 17:22.7, a 30-second improvement from her 5,000-meter time at the Illinois State Invitational on Sept. 11. The Grimes, Iowa, native has been the top finisher for the Hawkeyes in the past three races.

Juniors Tess Wilberding (17:59.8) and Carolyn Newhouse (18:15.8) raced to season bests en route to finishing second and third for Iowa. Sophomore Kelly Breen (18:19.4) and freshman Andrea Shine (18:21.2) posted personal-best efforts to conclude Iowa’s scoring. The women’s team finished 19th, overall, in the elite division.

“The women raced well all the way,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “I think their performance as a whole is overshadowed by the results. There were a few personal bests and we had some progress today going against tough teams.”

Sophomore Michael Melchert (61st) paced Iowa in the men’s elite five mile with a collegiate best, 24:46.8. He is the third Hawkeye to lead the team in as many races. Junior Ben Anderson (86th/25:00.5) remains Iowa’s second finisher so far this season. The Hawkeye men placed 20th, overall.

“It was a disappointing effort on the men’s side,” Anderson said. “We certainly didn’t run to our capabilities. There were huge gaps throughout our lineup. Today is not a reflection of what we’ve been seeing in training, but we have a few weeks to regroup before our next race.”

The Hawkeyes return to action Oct. 16 with the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois.