Illinois Cross Country prances over Illinois State, opening 2022 season


Sydney Laput

Illinois women’s cross country runners Sam Poglitsch, Halle Hill and Madison Marasco heads towards the finish line as they finish up their 5k run at the University’s Arboretum against Illinois State.

By Theo Gary, Contributing Writer

On a balmy September 1st, the Illinois Women’s Cross Country laced up their shoes and blew past Illinois State in their first meet of the year, opening the year at the UI Arboretum.

Sophomore distance runners Sam Poglitsch, Halle Hill and senior Madison Marasco finished, respectively, first through third, separated by 0.6 seconds.

The Illini took eight of the top-twelve spots. Sophomore distance runner Maggie Gamboa finished fourth with a time of 18:14.2. Sophomore distance runner Amelia Malachek finished fifth with a time of 18:20.4. Senior distance runner Katie Hone finished sixth with a time of 18:35.8. Junior distance runner Breena Shreeves finished ninth with a time of 19:26.6. Freshman Audrey Ginsberg finished tenth with a time of 19:46.1.

As for Illinois State only four of their runners finished in the top 12. Sophomore distance runner Lauren Schultz finished seventh with a time of 18:49.8. Sophomore distance runner Mattison Plummer finished eight with a time 19:09.6. Freshman distance runner Maggie Reid finished eleventh with a time of 20:03.4. Sophomore distance runner Jenna Gruber rounded out the group of twelfth finishing with a time of 20:19.7.

Hill, an impact freshman who made it to the Western Regionals last season, is back and hoping for a little more.

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“Definitely another Regionals bid. I think that I’m gonna be able to go into it with a little bit more confidence,” Hill said. “Just having that experience under my belt, and hopefully we make it to Nationals for cross country this year, too.”

As this was the first meet of the year, the focus was, according to Hill, on togetherness.

“It feels really good,” Hill said. “This race is kind of just about racing with my teammates and finishing strong together. So it was a really fun season opener. I really liked it not and I’m excited to get deeper into the season.”

An important aspect of that togetherness was the shoulder-to-shoulder finish, where the top three finishers (Poglitsch, Hille and Marasco) attempted to cross the finish-line at the same time.

“Coach was yelling at us to get shoulder to shoulder before the finish line,” Hille said.

As coaches go, Illinois had a tumultuous last season, firing longtime Track and Field Director Mike Turk. Replaced by National Champion, former Georgia coach Petros Kyprianou, the message remains consistent – togetherness and positivity, on-and-off the track.

“We had two meetings together, and I really liked the things that he said to us as a team,” Hill said. Kind of, you know, once you get onto the starting line you can be arrogant; you’re gonna race for your team. But once you get off you’re gonna be humble, and you’re gonna be a good sportsman.”


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