Illinois cross country finishes sixth at Big Ten Championships

Runners+Jon+Davis+and+Tyler+Cushing+run+at+the+Red+Bird+Invite+on+Sept+17.+Davis+placed+third+for+the+mens+2.5+mile+run+and+Cushing+placed+12th+at+the+Big+Ten+Championship+on+Oct+29.+

Photo courtesy of Jon Davis Instagram

Runners Jon Davis and Tyler Cushing run at the Red Bird Invite on Sept 17. Davis placed third for the men’s 2.5 mile run and Cushing placed 12th at the Big Ten Championship on Oct 29.

By Renato Arteaga, Staff Writer

The Illini cross country teams finally had another chance to compete at the Big Ten Championships this season on Friday in State College, Pennsylvania, after five regular-season meets.

The men’s and women’s teams both took home sixth place behind other conference opponents such as Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, which placed fifth, fourth and first, respectively. 

The sixth-place overall finish marks the second year in a row for the men’s team and the second time in three years for the women.

Head coach Sarah Haveman came into this year’s postseason with high expectations for both teams, especially the women’s team, which managed to take home third place at last season’s Big Ten Championships and advanced to the NCAA Championships, where they finished 22nd overall. 

Graduate student Jon Davis is familiar with these high stakes postseason environments and continued his hot streak this season by finishing third overall with a time of 24:44.0 as the Illini’s first finisher in the men’s 5.2-mile race.

Davis is looking to return to the next round of the cross country postseason for the second year in a row after being the only male runner representing the Illini at the NCAA Championships last season, when he placed 39th overall with All-American honors.

Underclassmen from both programs had some strong performances during their respective meets. At least one underclassmen runner finished in the top two for the Illini during both races.

On the women’s side, freshman Annalyssa Crain placed 17th overall with a time of 21:11.0 as her team’s first finisher. Senior Emma Milburn finished shortly after and placed 19th overall with a time of 21:13.5.

Sophomore Tyler Cushing managed to finish 12th for the men with a time of 25:13.0. After an initial struggle adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 in the beginning of his career, Cushing managed to play a big role on the men’s team during one of the biggest meets of the season.

The list of qualifying runners that will advance to the next round of the postseason is expected to be released in the following week, while several Illini from both programs remain hopeful to be listed after their strong performances at the Big Ten Championships.

The NCAA Regional is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Iowa City, Iowa.

 

@ArtofRenato

[email protected]