Illinois cross country aims to bounce back at NCAA Pre-Nationals after strong start to season

Two+members+of+the+Illinois+cross+country+team+run+during+the+Joe+Piane+Invitational+on+Oct.+1.+The+team+will+be+heading+to+Tallahassee%2C+Florida+for+the+upcoming+NCAA+Pre-Nationals+meet+on+Friday+in+hopes+of+a+strong+start+to+the+season.+

Photo Courtesy of Illinois Track & XC Twitter

Two members of the Illinois cross country team run during the Joe Piane Invitational on Oct. 1. The team will be heading to Tallahassee, Florida for the upcoming NCAA Pre-Nationals meet on Friday in hopes of a strong start to the season.

By Renato Arteaga, Staff Writer

The Illini cross country team will be heading to Tallahassee, Florida for the upcoming NCAA Pre-Nationals meet on Friday. 

This competition will mark the fourth meet of the year. Both Illini cross country programs started their seasons off strong, with the men’s and women’s teams each taking second place in the EIU Walt Crawford Open and first place in the Red Bird Invite during their first two meets. 

The women’s team placed 12th overall at their last meet, the Joe Piane Invite, while the men came in 20th out of 23 teams. 

Sophomore Tyler Cushing shared how a lot of runners on the team felt like they didn’t perform at the level they should’ve been at during this meet but have already shifted their focus toward redeeming themselves at their next meet.

“We definitely underperformed there (Joe Piane Invite), but Pre-Nationals should be a pretty similar competitive field,” TylerCushing said. “There is going to be some teams there that we expect to qualify for Nationals that we could potentially beat, so that’ll be a pretty big meet for us to score some points.”

Meanwhile, upperclassmen leaders for both programs have been performing at a high level at every meet they’ve participated in.

Graduate student Jon Davis placed first and second overall at the Red Bird Invite and the Joe Piane Invite, respectively, and has a chance to carry over that momentum into one of the biggest races of the season so far.

On the women’s side, senior Emma Milburn has also finished as the Illini’s top runner in her first two meets of the season. She placed second and 49th overall at the Red Bird Invite and the Joe Piane Invite, respectively.

The Illini’s playoff competition takes place only two weeks after the Pre-Nationals meet, so both cross country programs have a little more time to fully prepare themselves before they compete for the Championships and fight for a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships.

The NCAA Pre-National meet is scheduled to begin at 7:35 a.m. on Friday.

 

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