Runner Hague has stellar debut

Erica Magda

Erica Magda

By Kyle Diller

Many familiar faces from the women’s cross country team were missing on Friday when now-No. 10 Illinois lined up for the Bradley Open. In their absence, the Illini were hoping for somebody to step up, for somebody to lead the team. They found that somebody in sophomore Stacy Hague.

Making her season debut, Hague started strong as she led the Orange and Blue runners to a second-place finish at the Open.

“I think running with my teammates definitely pushed me, and I tried my best to stay with them,” Hague said. “It was kind of just a mental race for me honestly. I didn’t feel very physically capable to run that race, but I was ready to push myself mentally and I think I did.”

As a freshman, the soft-spoken leader made only two appearances for the Orange and Blue, but in her sophomore debut she came off the start line ready to make a statement.

“It’s great for Stacy, only being a sophomore, being able to put in a very good performance,” head coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. “This means a lot for her dedication to the sport and to our program and hopefully it’s a sign of great things to continue to come throughout the year and for years to come.”

It was a tight 5K race for Hague, as she battled the rainy conditions. But running with sophomore teammate Kate Tysse spurred her to a fifth-place finish with a time of 19 minutes, eight seconds – just one second shy of her personal best.

Hague competed against her older sister, Kathryn, from Lewis University. Kathryn won the Collegiate Division, finishing one second ahead of Stacy, who was competing in the University Division. However, Hague made it clear she was excited to compete against her sister no matter the result.

Rasmussen made it clear that Hague has a very important role this season – a role that will continue as the Orange and Blue head to Normal, Ill., for the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships on Friday.

“She will be competing this weekend, once again looking for her to continue to help lead the team, be in the top group and really help us out in that aspect, but also help us out in leadership roles, and continue to make everything fun for us,” said Rasmussen.

With Rasmussen planning to bring back many of last season’s top runners in the coming meets, Hague’s performance at Detweiller Park puts her in good position to see extended time on Illini tournament teams in the near future.

Hague will stick to the basics for right now, though, as it is still early in the season.

“I just want to improve my times and not get injured,” Hague said. “I just really want to reach my potential as a runner.”

Editor’s Note: The Daily Illini sports desk sits down on Sunday nights and decides which Illinois athlete is our Illini of the Week. Student-athletes are evaluated by individual performance, contribution to team success and personal achievement.