Illini win first meet of season

By Erik Hall

The Illinois men’s cross country team nearly achieved a perfect score Saturday at its season-opening meet at Illinois State. A sprint in the final 100 meters by an Illinois State runner and the dehydration of Illinois redshirt freshman Dan Stock kept the Illini from taking the top five spots.

“We would have liked to have done it,” said junior Eric Wallor of sweeping the meet. “If it was different conditions we probably would have had a real good shot at doing it. The heat got to me, I know, and the heat got to Dan. He couldn’t finish the race. The heat got to everybody.”

Wallor won Saturday’s six-kilometer race in his first meet at Illinois.

Wallor was a junior college All-American at Harper Junior College. Wallor completed Saturday’s race in 19 minutes, 17.27 seconds.

Illinois won the Redbird Challenge with 20 points. Illinois State finished second with 30 points and Northern Iowa took third with 68 points.

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Stock nearly completed his first race as an Illini. With about 300 meters remaining, Illinois head coach Paul Pilkington pulled Stock from the race.

“Dan was getting dehydrated, and with 800 to go, he was weaving,” Pilkington said. “He just got his core temperature too high, so I pulled him. I grabbed him and stopped him with 200 or 300 meters to go instead of letting him finish. He needed to get some fluids in him.”

After the race, Stock went to the hospital and was put on an IV.

“My legs are a little sore, but the rest of me is all right,” Stock said Monday. “This was my first time I haven’t been able to finish a race ever.”

Stock is not scheduled to participate in practices until Thursday. At that time, he will begin to build back up to competition level.

“We’ll let him recover now,” Pilkington said. “I won’t race him next week. Once you have a heat problem like that, you’re a little more susceptible. I’ll wait until we get some cooler weather before I race Dan again.”

When Pilkington pulled Stock from Saturday’s race, Illinois redshirt freshman Tim Kelly moved up and became the No. 2 finisher. Kelly finished with a time of 19:44.43.

“You’re more concerned with how your teammate was doing, but it was nice to come in second behind Eric,” Kelly said. “Eric definitely has a good place on the team right now.”

Illinois State junior Jeremy Doherty trailed two Illinois runners entering the final 100 meters, but put in a kick that moved him to third. Illinois freshman Matt Flaherty finished fourth and redshirt freshman Justin Aronson finished fifth.

The Illini are scheduled to compete in the Pack-It Up Challenge on Saturday at the Arboretum on Lincoln Avenue. An alumni race starts at 7:45 a.m. The current Illini run at 8:30.

Stock and sophomore Seth Pilkington are the only Illinois runners not scheduled to run the 4-mile course.

“We have a race coming up Saturday,” Wallor said. “It will be exciting, and then we have a big race in a couple weeks in Minnesota. It will be a good test to see where we’re at.”

Illinois finishers: 1. Eric Wallor, 19:17.27; 2. Tim Kelly, 19:44.43; 4. Matt Flaherty, 19:57.51; 5. Justin Aronson, 20:05.40; 8. Mike Kelley, 20:09.14; 10. Ryan Giuliano, 20:26.14; Dan Stock, DNF.