Unexpected performance for cross country Big Ten championships

By Meghan Rest, Assistant Sports Editor

The Big Ten Championships didn’t go as planned for the Illinois cross country teams.

After finishing in the top-5 in every meet so far this season, the women’s team finished 12th out of 14 other teams in the Big Ten on Nebraska’s home course this weekend. The men earned a 10th-place finish out of 12 teams. Senior Dan Lathrop fell early in the men’s 8k, and freshman Madison Marasco didn’t finish the women’s 6k.

A lot of things were out of the Illini’s control, head coach Sarah Haveman said.

“We were a little disappointed in our overall finish, and now we’re just taking time and reflecting with both men and women’s teams,” Haveman said. “We had some things outside of our control today, and I don’t think we quite had the depth to make up for things that took place.”

This season has been a turbulent one for the men’s squad. Although the Illini won the EIU Walt Crawford Invitational in September and placed third at the Bradley Pink Classic earlier this month, they’ve struggled in bigger meets: placing 6th out of 14 at the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic and 29th out of 33 teams at Wisconsin’s Nuttycombe Invitational.

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    But this season has been different for the men. The squad is missing two important staples, senior Jesse Riser and junior Jon Davis – arguably two of the best runners in Illini history. Between the two of them, they have two All-American titles, two All-Big Ten titles, two school records and Davis is the 498th American to have run a mile under four minutes (3:58.46).

    While both athletes’ absences have made a difference on the course, the team’s performance at the Big Ten Championship was still disappointing.

    I think the sentiment all around was that we were pretty disappointed in the outcome,” junior Zach Dale said. “I was a little bit disappointed in not going for it in the second half of the race. I think I got too in my head, and Dan (Lanthrop) took a fall: it could have been a better day.”

    Even though Lathrop’s tumble in the beginning of the race took a toll on the overall team score, it shouldn’t have affected individual runs, but according to Dale, it did.

    “Ideally (falling) is something we can ignore and still run our own race. But when you see your teammates go down, and it’s their last year, when you’re looking to have a good day, it’s hard,” Dale said. “All you can do is learn from their experience and try to focus on your race.”

    The women’s squad had a similar day on the course. They finished far below expectation, according to Haveman. Like their male counterparts, one woman faced trouble on the course, and didn’t finish the race.

    But despite the low team finish, sophomore Rebecca Craddock said she’s optimistic for the remainder of the season, especially with NCAA Regionals about a week away.

    I actually feel the most confident I have coming away from this race personally,” Craddock said. “I’ve been in a little bit of a mental rut, and today makes me feel excited for regionals. We’ve had good momentum, we hit a little bit of a rough patch today because Maddy (Marasco) didn’t finish, but Maddy ran really well until she started to feel sick. Everyone is really excited for regionals, and everyone is still running well, practicing well and those are all good signs going forward.”


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