Men take fifth at Lakefront Invitational

By Erin Foley

On Saturday, the men’s cross country team finished fifth out of 28 teams at Loyola University’s Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational.

For the third time this season, senior Eric Wallor led the Illini, finishing the 8k race with a time of 25:17, a personal best this season. He finished 25th overall. Wallor had team-best finishes at the Iowa Hawkeye Invite with an 18:37 and the “Pack-It-Up” Challenge with a 25:43.

Head coach Wendel McRaven said Wallor continues to run better each week and has consistently been the Illini’s leader.

Sophomores Mike Kelley, who also ran a lifetime best 8k, and Maciej Sniegorski finished with times of 25:14 and 25:35, in 30th and 41st places, respectively.

“Maciej is continuing to gain fitness and is gradually returning to the form that he had in the past,” McRaven said. “He will be a very strong contributor before he is done.”

Freshman Tim Maier finished with a time of 25:35 and took 42nd place. McRaven said Maier is running, “very well for a true freshman and has stepped right into a significant role in our top-five.”

The Illini finished with 181 points, while host Loyola captured first place with 81 points. Places second through fourth went to Eastern Michigan (98), Guelph (118) and Grand Valley State (125).

The Illini continue to see injuries as sophomores Dan Stock and Dan Walters and freshman Art Glaz were forced to sit out last Saturday’s race; while sophomore Ian Clausen dropped out of the race due to heat exhaustion and sophomore Justin Aronson strained his achilles before the first mile ended.

McRaven considered his team’s showing at the Lakefront Invite to be a solid performance.

“It was the first time we have seen a large field with significant competition,” he said. “This experience will pay off as the season progresses with our major goals being the Big Ten meet and the NCAA regional meet.”

The Illini continue to steadily improve, as many of them ran lifetime bests for an 8k race in Chicago.

“That is the best objective feedback you can get in regards to progression, not only over the season, but over their careers as well,” McRaven said.

Continuing to get better in order to compete well in the future championship phase of the season, continues to be the team’s goal, McRaven said.

The Illini compete again this Saturday in the Sauluki Invite in Carbondale.

“This meet tells us where we are right now and shows us that there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.