Illinois women’s cross country set to rebound from Big Ten disappointment


Sydney Laput

The Illinois women’s cross country team takes off at the starting line for the women’s 5k against Illinois State on Sept. 1.

By Theo Gary, Staff Writer

A tough finish at the Big Ten championships and a long two weeks of waiting means that, for Illinois women’s cross country, the season is reaching a climax. 

Throughout, the Illini ran with consistency, taking first or second in all of their regular season meets. Last week, however, was the postseason’s beginning, and there they disappointed, finishing ninth out of 14 in the Big Ten Championships.

“I thought we’ve been competing well against the nationally ranked teams, and at Big Ten’s we had a few different things that didn’t quite swing our way leading up to the championships in terms of health,” cross country head coach Sarah Haveman said.

The disappointments of October’s lone meet don’t take away from the possibilities of November. Injuries or not, Friday at the NCAA Regionals the Illini will be for sure one thing — confident in themselves. 

“When you’re in a conference as strong as the Big Ten, when you don’t have a good day you slip pretty far back. And the women know that,” Haveman said. “So I am confident in how they’ll respond, and know ultimately (that) they know they’re defined by many different things than one bad day.”

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One runner who didn’t have a bad day was graduate student Emma Milburn. She finished 12th at Big Tens, best of all Illinois runners, with a time of 20:30.5. 

According to her coach, what makes Milburn remarkable is her consistency, both in approach and attitude. 

“Emma’s a perfect example of why you have to remain process oriented and stay focused,” Haveman said. “Emma is one of our strongest leaders and our greatest competitors. But more than anything else, Emma is very consistent with how she trains, how she takes care of herself and the teammate she is. Ultimately in the sport consistency tends to pay off.”

To be successful Friday, there is nothing the Illini need to change greatly.  

“To them it has just been to stay authentic to who they are,” Haveman said. “There’s nothing we need to change wildly. We had one off day, and the key will be that we stay true to ourselves.” 


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