Men, women see different results at Big Ten Championships

By Kyle Diller

The men’s and women’s cross country teams finished at opposite ends of the standings at the Big Ten Championships on Sunday.

Going into the Championships, the No. 10 women’s team targeted a higher finish than their fourth-place finish last season. However, when all the runners crossed the finish line, the Orange and Blue managed only to equate their result from last year, while Minnesota took top honors.

“The positives were that they never gave up. The course is a hard course, and something that we’re not completely used to, but they fought through the entire race,” head coach Jeremy Rasmussen. “We needed to do a better job of running together, they weren’t committed to running with each other and trying to move through the field that way.”

Senior Katie Engel and junior Angela Bizzarri both led the Illini, as they notched sixth and seventh-place finishes, respectively, while also earning first team All-Big Ten honors.

“I was really happy, that was really my goal at the beginning of the season, to get first team All-Big Ten,” Engel said. “I was thinking about that during the race, during the tougher times. Thinking that I really wanted to get that kind of helped me along.”

Freshmen Kristin Sutherland also continued a strong rookie season, as she earned a 19th-place finish in a meet that Rasmussen considered one of the top two most competitive races of the season.

Meanwhile, it was a different story for the men’s team. Having set their goal to place in the top half of the Big Ten, the runners couldn’t manage to achieve their goal, as they settled for a disappointing ninth-place finish in a field of 10 teams.

“Obviously we’re not happy, we’re a little disappointed,” head coach Wendel McRaven said. “It is what it is. The Big Ten is a tough conference, we went in there with six freshmen, and they battled hard. To finish where we want to finish, we’re just missing too many people.”

Junior Jeremy Stevens was the top finisher for the Orange and Blue, earning a 38th-place finish.

“I think overall it wasn’t a very good performance for the team or individually,” Stevens said. “I know a lot of guys went out there and competed, but Big Ten races are completely different than anything else we’ve experienced. We’re trying to use this to help us drive toward the future.”

Next up for both squads will be the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 15.