Lisa Koll made herself at home on the road Saturday at the Quad-City Times Bix 7.
Running in the first major road race of her life, the four-time NCAA champion who completed her career at Iowa State dominated the women's field in the 36th annual 7-mile run through the streets of Davenport.
The 22-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, forged a lead a little more than 2 miles into the race that served as the 2010 American National 7-mile Championship and never looked back, finishing in 37 minutes, 52 seconds to top Amy Hastings of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., by 41 seconds.
Koll is the first Iowan - male or female - to win at the Bix 7 since 1980.
"All along the course, people were yelling ‘Go, Lisa' and ‘Go, Cyclones,' and it just felt like home," Koll said.
"To win my first road race and to do it in my home state, that means a lot. I've always heard about the Bix and a lot of my friends have told me that I would love it, and they were right. It's awesome."
The victory continued a successful year for Koll.
She swept the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June, finished second in the 10,000 at the U.S. Track and Field Championships and established a personal best in the 5,000 on the track a week ago in France.
"It's been an incredible few weeks," Koll said. "I'm glad that I took the time after the college season to explore a bit and see what is out there. I've had a lot of fun the past few weeks and there has been no stress. I haven't felt any pressure and I believe that has helped me compete."
Koll ran a conservative and confident race Saturday, a combination that allowed her to equal the largest-victory margin at the Bix 7 since Colleen De Reuck won her fourth Bix title in 2002 by 41 seconds over Katie McGregor.
"There was a pretty good pack for the first mile or so, but she moved ahead along with Andrea (Walkonen) and (Blake) Russell a little after that spot,'' Hastings said. "By the time we hit 3 miles, I couldn't see her any more. She wasn't going to be denied."
Hastings did work her way past Walkonen and Russell to finish second in 38:33, 10 seconds ahead of Walkonen and 50 seconds in front of Russell, who celebrated her 35th birthday Saturday with what she labeled a "disappointing run."
"I felt good on Friday, felt good heading in, but it just didn't happen for me, and sometimes that is the way it works," Russell said. "It was going to be awfully difficult for anyone to stay with Lisa. She ran a great race."
Koll saw the Bix 7 course for the first time on Thursday when she drove the course.
"The first hill was pretty intimidating. I had heard about that, but it was a little more challenging than I thought," Koll said.
"I knew I had to run a fairly conservative race. The slow, steady grade in miles 4 through 6 was where I knew I had to be smart. I knew if I got through Mile 6 in good shape that it was all downhill from there."
After working through a competitive schedule that has kept her busy since last fall's cross country season at Iowa State, Koll expects to take a bit of a break over the next few months.
She said her likely return to competition will come next January during the indoor track season.
"It's been a great year and it feels good to finally be home again," Koll said. "I'm looking forward to catching my breath, looking back a bit and getting ready to move forward. The one thing I've realized the past few weeks is how much there is out there, and I'm anxious to explore it all."