The Daily Illini

Illinois cross country closes out regular season at home

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Illinois' Alex Gold (374) runs in the Illini Open at the University of Illinois Arboretum on Friday. Gold placed second with a time of 25:37.0 in the men's 8K.

Illinois' Alex Gold (374) runs in the Illini Open at the University of Illinois Arboretum on Friday. Gold placed second with a time of 25:37.0 in the men's 8K.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Alex Gold (374) runs in the Illini Open at the University of Illinois Arboretum on Friday. Gold placed second with a time of 25:37.0 in the men's 8K.

By Jared Farmer, Staff writer

The Illinois men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in their final meet of the regular season at home.

Senior Alex Gold led the men’s team while freshman Kelli Callahan led the women’s to close out the 2017 regular season at the Illini Open at the University of Illinois Arboretum. Gold finished No. 2 overall, while Callahan finished No. 17.

“It was a little weird at first, because I didn’t foresee that this would be my last race until the week of,” Gold said. “But once I was in the race, it really hit home that this would be the last time.”

At the end of the first split, Gold and Michael Ward (unattached) were within a second of one other. Ward pulled ahead in the second half of the race; however, Gold maintained a 3:09.0 per kilometer pace to secure second place with a time of 25:37.0. His second place finish marks the third time Gold has placed in the top-10 at a meet this season.

Teammates Joe Cowlin and Alex Keeble ran together throughout the race, running a pace of 3:18.0 per kilometer to finish No. 12 and No. 13 with times of 26:49.4 and 26:54.3, respectively.

“Keeble and I were kind of stuck in no man’s land, so we were pretty much by ourselves,” Cowlin said. “Having your teammate next to you, knowing that you run workouts and runs with them everywhere, it was easier to pass each other and go back and forth; it would just keep cycling with us, and we built on that to have a better race collectively.”

On the women’s side, Callahan ran a pace of 3:52.5 per kilometer to finish in No. 17 place with a time of 19:29.7 in the women’s 5,000-meter race. Alongside Callahan was sophomore Diane Lipa, who finished a split second behind Callahan to finish No. 18 overall.

This meet serves as a confidence booster for Callahan, as she prepares to race in the Big Ten Conference this upcoming Sunday.

“It meant a lot for me to race the way I did,” Callahan said. “I wasn’t expecting to race in the Big Ten Championships and the post season as a freshman, but I’m definitely excited.”

@jaredefarmer

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