Schneider qualifies for NCAA Championships

By Mike Gasick

At the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday, Alyssa Schneider showed how much she wants to compete in one more collegiate cross-country race.

The redshirt senior continued her torrid pace after taking two weeks off during the middle of the season. She completed the race in 20 minutes and 12 seconds, good for second in a field of 162RB.

“I am really just enjoying the moment and trying to soak it all in,” Schneider said. “At this point, all the hard work is almost done, and I just really want to revel in the end of my time representing this team.”

Schneider said that she felt comfortable with the course conditions and stayed in the top pack for the entire race. North Dakota State’s Erin Teschuk finished five seconds ahead of SchneiderRB: The Illini outlasted third-place finisher Sharon Lokedi of Kansas by two seconds.

Illinois placed 10th out of 32 teams in Lawrence, Kansas, ending the season for the rest of the Illini runners. Many will now start their preparations for the upcoming indoor track and field seasonRB.

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Junior Valerie Bobart bounced back from her last race, when she was the team’s sixth finisher. This time out, Bobart was the second runner to cross the finish line for the Illini with a time of 21:33, good for 57th overallRB.

Redshirt senior Britten Petrey completed her last cross-country race as an Illini with a third-place team finish, good for 62ndRB.

Sophomore Denise Branch and junior Hanna Winter were next to finish for the Illini, placing 84th and 109th, respectivelyRB.

Redshirt sophomore Audrey Blazek and junior Megan Lemersal rounded off the race for the Illini, finishing in 143rd and 157thRB, respectively.

Oklahoma State won the Regional Championship, followed up by Iowa State in second place and Minnesota in third.RB

Head coach Scott Jones is proud of what his team accomplished this year and is excited for the team’s future. He was specifically impressed with Bobart’s second-place team finish.

“I was very pleased with Valerie’s performance,” Jones said. “I would say it was a breakout performance and a step in the right direction.”

Many of Schneider’s teammates will be making the trip down to Louisville, Kentucky, which will be the site of the NCAA Championships race. Schneider did not race when the team competed in the Pre-Nationals race on Oct. 17 due to precautionary reasons. She did practice with the team on the course, so she knows what type of course conditions to expect heading into the race.

“It means so much to me to have that support system backing me up,” Schneider said.

She already has goals in mind for the NCAA Championships, hoping to finish among the top 40 racers, which would give her All-American status. 

Schneider said being an All-American has been a goal since her freshman year, and finishing that high would be a great way to top off her college career.

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