Morgan Casey Checks In…

Friday morning begins another exciting year of Cyclone cross country travel, as the team departs for the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis. The Griak is known for its rolling hills, deceptively short homestretch, and for being one of the first big meets of the year. This year the Division I race will be a little smaller, with several teams opting to race in Louisville to get a preview of this year’s nationals course.

For the Cyclone women, it makes no difference who shows up to race on Saturday because we are all confident that the outcome will be the same regardless of the competition. We have high goals for ourselves this year, which include winning a lot of meets.  The only way to make this happen is to believe in the process. We live and train each day like national champions, because we want to be the best. To believe is to achieve, and it starts right now.

We have run two low-key races to get our feet wet, and we have put in several great workouts that solidify our belief that we are one of the best teams in the country. Led by All-Americans Betsy Saina and Meaghan Nelson alone we are a force to be reckoned with. Put Samantha Bluske, newcomer Crystal Nelson, and the rest of our returners from last year into the mix and we make one heck of a storm.

Despite having missed the bid to nationals two years in a row, the men’s team looks the strongest I’ve seen them, and not only from a physical standpoint. They have a leader in Charlie Paul (a Pleasant Valley alum) who is committed to helping his team get to Louisville in November. Former mid-distance runner Mohammed Hrezi is new to cross country, but continues to improve by leaps and bounds with every hard effort, and has a very successful season ahead of him.

And of course I must mention the epic return of the great Lisa Koll (now Lisa Uhl), which has certainly brought new life into the team. Just a few short years ago, Lisa, a Fort Dodge native, ended her career as a multiple national champion and the best collegian to have run the 10k on the track. In the years between now and then she has lived and trained in Oregon with the likes of Olympic marathoners Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher.

Lisa has struggled with some injuries, yet battled back to represent the USA at the London Olympic Games, and now she has found her way back to Ames. As a volunteer assistant coach, she will continue to train under the same coaches who helped bring her that success back when she donned the Cardinal and Gold jersey herself.

That’s a mighty big confidence boost to those of us still representing these colors. I think it gives us bragging rights on the playground for saying “my coach is better than your coach.”

We’re a fast team and a talented team. That is no big secret. We have a coaching staff worth bragging over, and everyone knows that too. But we don’t have to brag, boast, or even blog to let people know how good we are. Once that gun goes off, our feet do all the talking.

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