Illinois cross country program adds three new faces to rosters


Photo courtesy of Illinois Athletics

The Illinois cross country team begin their run at the Joe Pian Invitational on Oct. 1. The program welcomes three new recruits: Alex Partlow, Brady Masters and Audrey Ginsberg.

By Conor Blount, Contributing Writer

Illinois men’s cross country concluded the 2021–2022 season placing sixth in the Big Ten Championship and fifth in the NCAA Midwest Regional. Despite being Illinois’ highest regional finish since 2017, it was not enough to qualify the Illini for the NCAA championship as a team.

As Illinois looks to make improvements with the hopes of reaching the NCAA Championships this season, they will have to overcome the loss of graduate student Jon Davis. 

During his tenure with the Illini, Davis was a four-time All-American and was consistently representing Illinois as an individual at the NCAA Championships even when Illinois as a whole did not qualify. This offseason, the program looked to secure young talent that can one day have the kind of impact Davis had. 

The Illini hope to meet these needs with the signings of two talented XC prospects for the upcoming 2022–2023 season. Incoming freshmen Alex Partlow and Brady Masters are set to join the program next fall.

Alex Partlow hails from Carbondale, Ill., where he attended Carbondale High School. During his time at Carbondale, Partlow racked up an impressive number of performances. Partlow won several competitions with none as impressive as his 3-mile personal record of 14:11.96 in the Illinois state championship.

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The next commit to Illinois men’s cross country is Brady Masters. Masters attended Madison Central High School in Richmond, Ky., where he won several competitions and stepped his game up when it mattered the most. During the 2022 state indoor championships, Masters notched a PR in both the 1500m and 3000m competitions, earning him third and second place respectively.

This duo’s ability to perform at the highest stage will be very valuable as Illinois looks to qualify for the NCAA championship in the coming seasons.

As Illinois men’s cross country looks to improve on the successes of last season, Illinois women’s cross country is in a completely different boat, as it looks to rebound after a somewhat disappointing year.

Illinois women’s cross country concluded their 2021–2022 season placing sixth in the Big Ten Championships and fifth in the NCAA Midwest Regional. This was the first time Illinois women’s cross country had missed the women’s NCAA Championships since 2018.

Illinois looks to make a return to the NCAA Championships with the addition of high school standout Audrey Ginsberg. 

During her senior year at Mt. Prospect High School, Ginsberg continually improved throughout the season, ultimately shaving nearly two and a half minutes off her 3-mile time. Ginsberg’s drive to improve will be highly valuable as Illinois women’s cross country looks to return to the NCAA Championships next season.

Overall, these three signings breathe a new life into Illinois cross country programs. If the high school successes can be replicated at the collegiate level, both programs are set to go even further than last season.


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