Women’s cross country season ends with NCAA success, two All-Americans

By Kyle Diller

The women’s cross country team has been nothing short of successful during the past five years, although that doesn’t mean the competition has remained the same.

This year’s team was very similar to last year’s, with the exception of a face or two. Junior Angela Bizzarri was once again named an All-American, and once again the team finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships, extending their annual streak to five.

“It’s made up of a lot of the same people,” Bizzarri said. “We’re just a little bit more experienced and a little bit stronger.”

The competition is improving, though, as the Orange and Blue dropped four places from last year to this year’s 10th-place finish.

“The competition was a lot better this year,” head coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. “Our third girl last year ran 21:14, our third girl this year ran 21:16 and was about 50 places back. It’s amazing to see the differences between the years.”

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    Another change from last year’s squad was the loss of sophomore Danelle Woods, who redshirted because of injury. However, freshman newcomer Kristin Sutherland was ready to fill the void for the team. Sutherland finished third for the Illini at the NCAA Championships.

    “It’s such a better experience for me than my high school experience because of the team logistics stuff,” Sutherland said. “The coaches are great and everything. I really like it.”

    This season also marked a change for the Orange and Blue as they had two All-Americans in their midst. Bizzarri earned her third cross country All-American honors while senior Katie Engel earned her first All-American honors in her final meet.

    “To have one (All-American) is hard enough. To be able to have two was something that was a lot of fun,” Rasmussen said. “Those two really helped us be able to achieve a tenth-place finish.”