Cross country begin where they left off with first meet in the books

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Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Men’s and women’s cross country teams huddle up during their first meet in Walt Crawford Open at Eastern Illinois on Sept 3. The season has now started for both teams and they both are off to a strong start.

By Renato Arteaga, Staff Writer

Both Illinois cross country teams secured a second place finish at the Eastern Illinois University Walt Crawford Open this past Friday. 

Two top five finishers for both teams included junior Eddie Lennon who finished in fifth with a time of 25:19.05. Freshman Margaret Gamboa also managed to place second with a time of 17:39.62 in her collegiate racing debut.

Rounding out the top ten finishers for the team was junior Michael Madiol, for the men’s team, and on the women’s side, redshirt senior Caroline Fix and juniors Katie Hohe and Brianna Lausev. 

The team scores ended with women’s team coming close in second (31) with Eastern Illinois taking first (29). On the men’s side, Eastern Illinois swept the competition and ended with 18, with Illinois coming in second with 44 points.

Although top performers on the team were sitting out this week, the Illini still managed to finish strong with quite a few underclassmen runners competing at the meet.

After the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the cross-country season last year, many student-athletes on the team missed out on opportunities to gain valuable racing experience.

Graduate student Allison McGrath shared how great it was to see both teams put the team on the right track.

“The EIU meet was a great season opener and really set the tone for how we want the season to go in general,” McGrath said. “Everyone put everything they had. It was inspiring, and we’ll carry it with us for future meets.” 

McGrath expressed how valuable it is to have a wide range of diversity on the team.

 “It’s nice that we have a big class.” McGrath said. “There is a lot of experienced leaders, including the juniors and seniors. It’s a good mix of young and old, and there are big leaders on and off the course.”

For now the Illini are on a two week break, but their next meet will be the Red Bird Invite on Friday, Sept. 17. 

 

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