Cross country program defends state meet title

By Kyle Diller

The men’s and women’s cross country teams both defended their titles at the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships on Friday.

But the women’s team was led by freshman Kristin Sutherland, who was defending a title she never helped win.

Last year’s Illinois high school state champion finished in first place in Illinois’ premier collegiate meet. Sutherland, making her collegiate debut at the meet in Normal, Ill., ran the 5K race in a time of 17 minutes, 47 seconds.

“Obviously it’s always a great thing to be able to do, being able to come in and win your first meet you’ve ever run in college,” head coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. “But she understands the competition she’ll face the rest of the year.”

Junior Jeremy Stevens continued his strong start to the season, finishing in second place. Stevens ran the 8K race in a time of 24:40, missing out on first by 20 seconds.

“This is the bragging rights meet in the state of Illinois, so you want to win, especially being the University of Illinois,” head coach Wendel McRaven said.

The men’s team showed their future is strong, as four freshmen placed in the top 20 overall.

“I’m definitely excited about the future as I look ahead, but at the same time you can’t sit around and start thinking about the future,” McRaven said. “We’ve got to take care of what’s right in front of us this season.”

Stevens started strong with a first-place finish in the Illini Challenge, but Stevens remains

grounded.

“It was really a race for me to put a greater effort in and see a little more what I can do,” Stevens said.

The men’s team will travel to Chicago on Friday for the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, while the women’s team will compete in the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 3.