Stock gets second first-place finish for the Illini

By Erin Foley

Men’s cross country head Coach Wendel McRaven was hoping to go into Sunday’s Big Ten Championship and see his team come away with a seventh-place finish. Instead, the injury-plagued team took 10th.

“When we get back to being 100 percent healthy, we can perform better than we did at Big Tens. We have nowhere to go but up,” McRaven said.

While McRaven was disappointed in the finish, he was happy with sophomore Dan Stock’s 31st place finish. Stock completed the race with a time of 25:28, and it was the second time this season he took first-place for the Illini.

“Dan Stock is going to be a guy who can be a contributor to the program,” McRaven said. “He is a competitor; we need more guys like Stock who know how to compete.”

Stock said he was not able to keep all of the goals he intended for the race.

“I wanted to move up a little further the last 3k and move up into the top-25,” he said.”

McRaven, though, feels like Illinois already has those competitors, but it has just been hit by a number of injuries of late.

Senior Eric Wallor, one of the Illini’s best runners, is suffering from bronchitis and finished the race with a time of 26:46. Wallor first found out about his bronchitis shortly after the Pre-National meet on Oct. 15, and was only cleared to run last week.

“Eric Wallor is a warrior, and I feel horrible; it’s his senior season,” McRaven said.

Sophomore Matt Flaherty, who McRaven said is “headed in the right direction,” only competed in his second meet of the season on Sunday, after having emergency stomach surgery last summer.

Sophomore Michael Kelley, who missed the last two weeks of training and competition due to injury, finished with a 64th place finish and a time of 26:48.

Aside from all the injuries, McRaven said he does not want the 10th place finish at Big Ten’s to define his team’s season.

“The key difference to get better at is that we have to race like we train, everyone echoes that,” McRaven said. “The team we have right now, we have to have a tight spread.”

Stock echoed his coach’s thoughts.

“Basically, we need to apply that competitive attitude and toughness (in practice) to races,” he said.

The Illini finished with 241 points, to top-finisher Wisconsin’s 16 points. Sophomore Maciej Sniegorski finished second for the Illini and 44th overall, with a time of 25:51.

Freshman Tim Maier came in 54th with a time of 26:22, and McRaven said he has a “solid freshman season and will only get better.”

The Illini will return to competition on Nov. 12 when they travel to Iowa City, Iowa for the NCAA Midwest Regional meet.

“We have two weeks to redefine our season, and I think we can,” McRaven said.