Illini women’s cross-country finishes last at adidas Invite

Heading into Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., the Illinois women’s cross-country team knew it was in for a tough challenge. Facing 43 opponents, including 18 nationally ranked teams and nine Big Ten foes, the Illini were going to need a top-notch performance.

But Friday proved not to be one of the Illini’s better days. The team struggled, finishing 44th out of 44 teams and failing to record any personal bests in the 6K event.

“Obviously it’s really disappointing,” head coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. “We need to figure some things out as we move toward the Big Tens and we really need to be able to give ourselves an opportunity. We didn’t really give ourselves a chance from the get-go today to have success and our youthfulness showed.”

The Illini were led by Meghan Frigo, who finished in 187th place and has finished first for the team in three straight meets.

Frigo finished in 21 minutes, 53 seconds, and was shortly followed by Courtney Yaeger (21:57), who finished 205th.

Also scoring points for the Illini were Katie Porada (264th place), Stacy Hague (268th) and Britten Petrey (273rd).

The Orange and Blue had been riding some momentum, finishing fourth in their last meet two weeks ago in Chicago, but things didn’t seem to be clicking right this weekend.

“There were a lot of things that we just didn’t do well that we’ve done well in past races,” Rasmussen said. “I don’t know if it was the size of the race, the level of competition or what it was, but we didn’t handle ourselves well today, we didn’t run to our ability.

“We don’t have much room for error this year and so we have to hit it on, have everybody be right, everybody be ready to go, and today that wasn’t the case.”

Washington won the event, scoring 199 and placing four runners in the top 50.

Individually, the meet was won by Villanova senior Sheila Reid with a time of 20:02, finishing just ahead of Oregon’s Jordan Hasay (20:05).

The Illini also sent three runners to Peoria, Ill., for the Bradley Classic this past weekend.

Megumi Hoshi finished first for the team and 93rd overall in the 6K event, setting a new personal record at 23:19.

She was followed by teammates Meghan Murphy (23:27) and Michelle Stratton (24:00).

Illinois will next compete at the UI Arboretum for the Illini Open on Friday, followed by the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30.

Although this weekend did not go as well as the team had hoped, there is still time to prepare for the Big Ten Championships.

“We need to continue to work hard,” Rasmussen said. “Right now we might not have as much talent as everybody else out there, but that means we need to work harder and do everything right. I think it was definitely a huge wake-up call for everyone, including myself.

Hopefully we can look back at it in a year from now and teach positives that really pushed us in the rear and get us moving in the right direction.”