Illinois ranks No.8 after John McNichols Invitational

By Renato Arteaga, Contributing Writer

After a No. 6-ranking in the USTFCCCA Midwest preseason regional, the men’s cross-country team is currently sitting in the No. 8 after competing at the John McNichols Invitational with five runners improving their 8k times in the Illini’s second meet of the season. The men’s team competed at the Indiana State hosted meet Friday.

The meet had a variety of talent from the five ranked programs including No. 1 Northern Arizona, No. 5 Iowa State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 16 Indiana and No. 24 Purdue.

The Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course stretched 8 kilometers, or 4.57 miles, which presented a somewhat uphill battle on the Midwestern terrain.

At this meet, the Illini placed seventh with a score of 211 as they competed against nearly 30 other schools in the 8k race.

Redshirt sophomore Irwin Loud led the charge for the team and placed 29th in the race with a time of 25:05.0, nearly 17.3 seconds faster than his first race of the season. After Loud, sophomores Logan Hall and Zach Dale placed 39th with a time of 25:19.2 and 50th with a time of 25:31.8, respectively.

Junior Jack LaLonde placed 59th with a time of 25:42.2, immediately followed by Sophomore Colin Yandel who placed 60th with a time of 25:44.9.

Like Loud, all of the Illini made improvements on their times from the Illini Open, the first home meet of the season, on Aug. 30.

At the Illini Open, Illinois came in second place with a score of 33 as it faced off against Purdue and DePaul at the UI Arboretum.

Loud said he didn’t expect anything different from his team when they faced off against the highly ranked teams at John McNichols Invitational.

“I think we knew it’d be a big opportunity for us,” Loud said. “We knew we would have to go out hard and work really hard. We were more focused on the opportunity of it, just being able to race faster guys.”

A few Illini ran this course previously, like Loud who ran it in high school, so they already had some experience on the challenging terrain.

“We did a good deal of hill training over the past few months,” Loud said. “There was a lot of emphasis on how we’re going uphill, so when we came to those rugged hills, it was a little tough because we don’t train on hills as much as the Western teams do, but I still feel like we did a good job practicing.”

Following the Indiana State meet, the team is looking forward to climbing regional rankings with the seven new freshmen, according to Loud.

“There is going to be a lot of teams that are going to be in our region, so this will be a good opportunity for us to score points in the regional hunt later on,” Loud said. “I think going into this race we have a lot of young guys with us, so there is a lot trying to still figure out the 8k and the distance.

The men’s team will be travel to Ohio State for the Buckeye Preview on Saturday at 8 a.m.