Illinois women’s cross country looks for 3-peat in Gans Creek Classic


Sydney Laput

The Illinois women’s cross country team takes the lead as they finish their first lap for their 5K against Illinois State for the Illini Challenge on Sept. 1. The Illini will be competing in the Gans Creek Classic in Missouri on Friday.

By Theo Gary, Staff Writer

So far, Illinois women’s cross country hasn’t come close to being beaten. In their two meets, the Illini took first both as a team and individually, dominating the leaderboards. This Friday, however, the team will be tested as it travels to Columbia, Miss., for the Gans Creek Classic. 

Incidentally, Columbia, Miss., and the Ganz Creek course will be the location of the NCAA Regionals for cross country, which gives Illinois the added bonus of knowing the course in its postseason run.

“Mizzou will be hosting the regional championships in a couple weeks at the tail end of the season, so we definitely want to get out and see the course,” head coach Sarah Haveman said. “So because they’re hosting the regional meet, what will be nice is we’ll see a lot of inter-regional competition this weekend, and kind of see where we stack up with those teams in the region right now.”

Besides seeing where the Illini stack up against other teams, these early season meets are important for working out the kinks before more serious portions of the season.

“Coming off as early season meets you want to just kind of see how the student-athletes are racing with one another,” Haveman said. “What they’re handling well on the course, things we want to fine-tune as we get into the deeper portions of the season. But ultimately, right now, we want to be putting in a lot of work and be fine-tuning the things that we need to for championship competition,” 

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In terms of what the team is focused on now, it’s training, training, training. 

“We’re still in a very high training load. We know we’re capable of racing well while we’re doing that,” Haveman said.

A lot of Midwestern teams will make the trip out to Missouri this weekend, with 26 women’s teams attending. Mizzou took fourth place in the last event they faced off against the Illini. Illinois took first.

The meet starts at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, as the Illini look to extend their win streak to three-straight with a win over the 25 other attendees. 


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