Schneider sets personal record at ISU Invitational

By Mike Gasick

Alyssa Schneider — Illinois’ top runner — just keeps getting better.

Building off her strong performance at the season-opening Illini Challenge, the fifth-year senior completed the best race of her career with the Illini women’s cross country team.

She finished the Country Financial ISU Invitational in 17 minutes 3.9 seconds Saturday in Normal, Illinois.

Schneider won the race by 24 seconds: Northern Illinois’ Kelsey Hildreth finished second.

This was Schneider’s third race at the course, which she says gave her an extra advantage during the race.

“That always helps,” Schneider said. “I felt more comfortable than I would, say, on a course I have never seen before.”

The course was located at Weibring Golf Club, and according to Schneider, it was comfortable and mild with very few obstacles.

Head coach Scott Jones said he remembers that the last time the team traveled to the ISU Invite, the race was mostly run in the rough of the golf course. This year’s race was completed through the course’s fairways — an advantage for the runners because of better traction.

Illinois finished third out of nine teams with a score of 95. The team was unable to get past Loyola and Illinois State, who closed the meet out with scores of 60 and 78, respectively.

Senior Britten Petrey finished eighth overall with a time of 18 minutes 9.4 seconds, good for second on the team. Petrey was followed by sophomore Audrey Blazek who finished 17th overall with a time of 18 minutes 22.8 seconds. Juniors Valerie Bobart and Hanna Winter were next to cross the finish line, finishing 32nd and 39th, respectively.

“It was a race we thought we could compete to win,” Jones said. “It’s a step in the learning process though.”

Content with her individual performance, Schneider knows that the team can vastly improve its times for the Roy Griak Invitational — the team’s next race in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“As a team, we weren’t too happy with (the race), we just knew it wasn’t our day, but we’re not discouraged.” Schneider said.

Citing the team’s inability to stick to the their racing strategy, Schneider said she understands that they can use this race as a starting point and improve from now until the end of the season.

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