ISU runners begin championship season with third consecutive title

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“Speak softly,” President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “and carry a big stick. You will go far.”

 –

 Roosevelt’s quote sort of summed up what took place Saturday and what still lies ahead for the Iowa State women’s cross country team.

 The two-time defending Big 12 champions entered the conference meet a bit off the radar. The program had to replace Betsy Saina and Meaghan Nelson (1st and 2nd place finishers in the ’12 conference race) and Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough is in her first year.

 “I think we ran well as a team,” Crystal Nelson understated. “We stayed relaxed and were (actually) singing songs to the radio in the van (on the way to the meet).”

 That is the “speak softly” part.

 But, things quickly changed once the race began.

 Nelson (2nd) and teammates Katy Moen (4th), Bethanie Brown (5th), Perez Rotich (9th) and Ejiro Okoro (15th) ran away from the competition, scoring just 35 points. All five Cyclone runners made the All-Big 12 team.

 The Cyclones’ margin of victory (69 points) was tied for the second largest in Big 12 history. Only Colorado in 2002 (73) has won the league title race by a larger margin. It was Iowa State’s third straight Big 12 title. Cael Sanderson’s wrestling program (2007-09) is the only other ISU sport to win three straight Big 12 championships.

 That is the “carry a big stick” part.

 “I’m excited to kick off the championship run (like this) with regionals and nationals coming up,” Grove-McDonough said.

 Let’s hope the last part of Roosevelt’s quote – “you will go far” comes true, too.

 Regionals are on deck in two weeks.

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