Women cross into second place

By Sharon Steed

Women’s cross country’s goals since camp were to finish top three at the Big Ten Championships and to qualify for Nationals as a team.

Yesterday, one of those goals was accomplished.

The team tied with 11th-ranked Michigan State for second place with 85 points. Michigan came in first with 45 points, Minnesota placed fourth with 133 and

21st-ranked Indiana had 135.

“When they said ‘And tied for second,’ we just erupted,” said head coach Karen Harvey. “We were just screaming and jumping up and down.”

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The Illini had three finishers in the top 10, including Hunt, senior captain Jaime Turilli, and freshman Maggie Carroll. All three were chosen as 2004 All-Conference runners.

“To have three people go all-Big Ten is huge for this program,” Harvey said. “They just had career days.”

Hunt finished first on the team and fifth overall with a time of 21:09. Both she and Harvey were disappointed with her performance but did not dwell on the negative, focusing on her efforts and the team as a whole.

“Cassie had an off-day, but she never gave up,” Harvey said. “It’s hard to have five people every meet show up and run awesome.”

At the Pre-National Invitational, Hunt finished third among Big Ten competitors, with a time of 20:28, 41 seconds faster than her time yesterday.

While Hunt did not perform as well as expected, other members of the team rose to the occasion.

“We had awesome performances by our freshmen, especially Maggie,” Hunt said. “But all the girls really came through today.”

Carroll had a career day, placing tenth overall and third on the team at 21:36, a personal best.

“I just never gave up the entire race,” she said. “I kept saying, ‘I know it’s hurting now, but I’ll be so much happier when I cross the finish line.'”

Finishing second among the team and sixth overall, senior Jaime Turilli also recorded a personal best at 21:13, by 11 seconds. Turilli rebounded from her disappointing showing at Pre-Nationals, where she finished 21:24.

“I knew I could be top-ten,” Turilli said. “I just went out more relaxed and ended up placing.”

There were two other scorers for the Illini in yesterday’s race. Freshman Rachel Hernandez finished fourth on the team and 30th overall at 22:17. The final scorer was senior Tabitha Volling, finishing fifth on the team and 34th overall with a time of 22:22, a personal best by 13 seconds.

Harvey said the team is excited but is aware that the season is not over. There are still two important races to be run: Regionals and Nationals.

“They know we still have a job to do. We still have to go to Nationals,” she said. “We don’t want to stop here; we’re not satisfied.”