Lafond prepares for NCAA Championships

By Lauren Mroz

With its eighth place team finish at the Midwest Regionals last weekend, the 2015 Illinois men’s cross country season is complete with the exception of one member of head coach Jake Stewart’s team. Junior Dylan Lafond finished eighth individually at the meet, which qualifies him to compete this weekend at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

“It’s very exciting just for the fact that my hard work is finally paying off,” Lafond said.

Lafond has been a consistent top finisher for the Illini, and head coach Jake Stewart said he has become a vital member of the team since he came to Illinois.

“He’s been very consistent for us,” Stewart said. “He’s come a long way in cross-country. I think if you ask, he’s probably considered himself for a long time more of a track guy.”

Lafond is in his first year competing with the cross-country team after he transferred last year from the University of Mount Olive. He agreed that before joining Stewart’s program that he had certainly considered himself more of a track runner.

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    “Going through Coach Stewart’s program has really created and opened my eyes to new possibilities of being a cross-country runner,” he said.

    Though Lafond wishes his team could join him for Saturday’s meet, he said he is looking forward to the challenge of representing the entire program nationally.

    “I’m excited to go as an individual,” Lafond said. “But I’m kind of bummed that (we) didn’t make it as a team. But I’m going to go in there and to the best of my possibilities.”

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