Cyclones are Top 50 nationally and best in state for Directors’ Cup

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The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup has been the standard measurement for competitive success in intercollegiate sports for 20 years.

 Iowa State placed 41st in the 2012-13 standings announced today. It was the third time in four seasons that the Cyclones have ranked among the Top 50 in Division 1A athletics. Prior to that, ISU had recorded a Top 50 ranking just once in the prior dozen years.

 For the third time in four seasons, the Cyclones were the highest finisher among schools in the state. Iowa finished 65th and UNI was 121st in this year’s ratings.

 Most impressively for Iowa State, however, was its place among Big 12 schools. The Cyclones’ total of 538.33 points was fourth-most (trailing Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State) in the conference.

 ISU was fifth (among 12 league schools) in 2000 and sixth (among 12 league schools) in 2012.

 The fourth-place rank this year (among 10 league schools) in the Big 12 was a noteworthy milepost for the Cyclones. In other major conferences, the fourth-best finishers in the cup were Oregon (Pac-12), Minnesota (Big Ten), LSU (SEC) and Virginia (ACC). That is pretty select company.

 This national all-sports rankings was another step forward for the student-athletes and coaches at Iowa State. They deserve your appreciation.

No one has a better championship resume than the Big 12

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Not everyone gets to be a champion. But, for student-athletes seeking to reach the pinnacle of college team sports there isn’t a surer path to championship status than the Big 12.

 The NCAA sponsors 39 team championships each year and the 2012-13 results are in for all of the sports except baseball. Eight different conferences – ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big West, Big Ten, Ivy, Pac-12 and SEC – have been represented on the championship podium this year.

 The Big 12 won six championships: men’s cross country (Oklahoma State), men’s rifle (West Virginia), women’s rifle (West Virginia), softball (Oklahoma), women’s outdoor track (Kansas) and volleyball (Texas).

 The Big 12 sponsors 181 sports among its membership, which means that 1-in-every-30.1 teams won a national title last season. That team championship ratio in the Big 12 is best in the nation (with just the baseball championship still up for grabs).

 Here are the ratios for the other leagues boasting at least one championship team:

  • Big 12: 30.17 (six championships for 181 teams)
  • Pac-12: 33.875 (eight championships)
  • Big Ten: 42.26 (seven championships)
  • SEC: 45.67 (six championships)
  • ACC: 65.75 (four championships)
  • Ivy: 71.25 (four championships)
  • Big East: 86.0 (two championships)
  • Big West: 193.0 (one championship)

The Big 12 may be a smaller league than most of its peers, but it doesn’t take a back seat to anyone in competition. Its championship tradition is truly worth touting.

Former teammates spurred dramatic turn-around for Cyclone runners

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There probably isn’t an athletics program at Iowa State that has improved its league performance more than women’s track & field and cross country since 2010.

 In the last four the years, the Cyclones have averaged fifth-place league finishes in both indoor and outdoor track & field and second in cross country. In the prior four years, their Big 12 averages were ninth (outdoor), 10th (indoor) and eighth (cross country).

 Lisa Koll (2012 U.S. Olympian) and Betsy Saina were two of the stars, who spurred the team’s improvement in this timeframe.

 Saina will be competing this week at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. It will be the closing act for her stellar collegiate career. Saina will run the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

 Saina will come to the starting line this week as a nine-time All-American. Koll crossed the finish line for the last time as a collegian (winning the 5k in 2010 at Eugene) as an 11-time All-American.

 Koll won four NCAA Championships at Iowa State and Saina has two. One of Saina’s came last fall at the national cross country championships. She beat a field of the nation’s 253 best runners.

 Saina and Koll were teammates for a couple of seasons at Iowa State, so their careers are somewhat linked. Beyond their personal achievements, however, they also share in restoring a proud tradition of Cyclone long-distance running dating back to the 1970s.