Illinois cross country to compete in NCAA Midwest Regional for first time in two seasons

Freshman+Kate+Dickman+runs+during+the+Illini+Open+Oct.+22.+The+Illinois+cross+country+team+will+head+to+Iowa+City+for+the+NCAA+Midwest+Regional+playoff+meet+on+Friday+afternoon.

Photo Courtesy of Illinois Track & XC Twitter

Freshman Kate Dickman runs during the Illini Open Oct. 22. The Illinois cross country team will head to Iowa City for the NCAA Midwest Regional playoff meet on Friday afternoon.

By Renato Arteaga, Staff Writer

After placing sixth at the Big Ten Championships, the Illinois cross country team will head to Iowa City for the NCAA Midwest Regional playoff meet.

This event is scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon and marks the first time a Regional playoff matchup will take place since the 2019 season.

The last time the Illini competed at Regionals, the women’s team took home first place, while the men placed ninth overall. 

The roster of athletes traveling to Iowa City has a mix of upper and underclassmen for both teams, including a total of five freshmen. 

The women’s team includes freshmen Margaret Gamboa, Halle Hill, Sam Poglitsch and Annalyssa Crain, and the men’s roster includes freshman Nicolas Dovalovsky. 

Crain played a big role during the team’s last playoff meet, the Big Ten Championships, where she placed 17th with a time of 21:11.0 as the Illini’s first finisher during the women’s 6K.

Graduate student Jon Davis also is coming off a hot performance after he placed third overall with a time of 24:44.0 during the men’s 5.2 mile race.

The veteran runners on the women’s team, like graduate students Rebecca Craddock and Allison McGrath and senior Emma Milburn, will have to step up with some big performances to help their team return to the NCAA Championships for the third year in a row.

The women’s team previously placed 21st and 22nd at the NCAA Championships during the 2020 and 2019 seasons, respectively. 

Davis will have a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row, but the men haven’t advanced as a team since the 2016 season. 

Although the NCAA Regionals will be a tough battle for the Illini, the glory that’s being chased by many upperclassmen on both programs isn’t the only thing that’ll remain with these athletes.

Junior Olivia Howell shared that the importance of relationships has been one of the most important takeaways she’s learned throughout this season.

“One of the biggest takeaways is how important relationships are,” Howell said. “Whether it’s with a coach, with the team or friendship, those are the main ones that will help get through the toughest times … Definitely leaning on each other has helped us.”

The NCAA Regional, possibly one of the final cross country meets for several upperclassmen, is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

 

@ArtofRenato

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