The Iowa State women’s cross country team opens the season as the No. 1-ranked program in the Midwest Region, the United State Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced this afternoon. The Cyclone men are ranked No. 2 in the Midwest, one spot higher than last year’s regional ranking.
The women’s squad is the five-time defending regional champion, having also won four consecutive conference crowns. The Cyclone women held the Midwest’s top ranking throughout the 2014 season, culminating in a NCAA Midwest Regional title.
All-American Crystal Nelson leads the way for the Cyclones, who return four of their top five finishers from last season’s Midwest Regional. Nelson, Erin Hooker and Perez Rotich all return as All-Midwest Region performers.
The Iowa State women are one of six Big-12 programs in the region, ranked ahead of No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Oklahoma, No.14 Kansas and No. 15 Kansas State.
The Cyclone men enter 2015 ranked No. 2 in the region behind the promise of young talent. The Cyclones return 2014 NCAA qualifier Dan Curts, who was the first Iowa State freshman to qualify for the NCAA Championships since 2008. The Ellsworth, Maine, native came on strong to close the 2014 campaign, finishing 10th at the Big 12 Championship prior to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
Also returning is sophomore Josef Andrews, who ran as ISU’s No. 2 in the season-opening Roy Griak Invitational before an Achilles injury prematurely ended a promising freshman campaign. Junior Christian DeLago was also an All-Midwest Region performer in 2014.
The Cyclones also added talent from the high school ranks, headlined by Thomas Pollard, who was named a three-time Gatorade Athlete of the Year in the state of Iowa while running for Gilbert High School. The freshman earned All-America honors twice at the Foot Locker National High School Cross Country Finals.
The men rank No. 2 among Big 12 programs in the region, sitting behind No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State and ahead of No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Kansas.
The men’s and women’s teams open the 2015 season Friday at the Hawkeye Early Bird Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa. Competition is slated to begin at 6:45 p.m. CT.
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