The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois cross country prepares for NCAA Midwest Regional 

The Illinois cross country teams will face their biggest test of the season this Friday as they compete in the NCAA Midwest Regionals.

This year’s meet is at the Greiner Family OSU Cross Country Course in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The women’s 6k will start at 10:30 a.m., while men will compete in their first 10k of the year an hour later at 11:30 a.m. 

At last year’s regionals, the since-graduated Colin Yandel led the way for the men’s team, finishing 29th overall (30:10.0). Junior Tyler Cushing took 42nd (30:27.6) and senior Jack Roberts placed 45th (30:30.2). The men’s team tallied 257 points, good enough for a seventh-place finish.

Roberts was named second-team All-Big Ten this year after taking ninth (24:38.6) at the Big Ten championships two weeks ago. Roberts also collected three first-place finishes this season, including at the Gans Creek Classic, where he recorded the seventh-fastest 8k in school history at 23:48.8. 

Sophomore Brady Masters and junior Anthony Maida also ran last year, finishing 96th (31:15.2) and 181st (32:56.4), respectively. They will both be looking for big improvements this year. Sophomore Alex Partlow will be competing in his first NCAA regional tournament.

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    Tulsa totaled 49 points and won the Midwest Regionals last year. Tulsa’s top four runners, three of whom have since graduated, finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Isai Rodriguez of Oklahoma State was the overall men’s winner, while Loyola’s Ryan Martins took second. Rodriguez and Martins have also graduated, leaving only one of the top six men’s finishers returning.

    The women’s team, with 176 points, placed sixth at last year’s regionals. Olivia Howell, who transferred to Texas over the summer, was the overall winner (20:02.9). The recently graduated Emma Milburn took 10th (20:25.1).

    Returning for the women’s team are a trio of juniors: Sam Poglitsch, who placed 51st (21:10.4) last year; Halle Hill, who took 60th (21:16.9); and Maggie Gamboa, who finished 136th (22:14.0). Freshman Avril Andre will be making her NCAA regional debut. 

    Oklahoma State won last year’s Midwest Regionals with 58 points. Three of the top five women’s finishers will return, while the other two have transferred out of the Midwest region. 

    The men’s team’s only NCAA regional championship came in 1976. Current assistant coach Jon Davis took first (29:06.2) in 2017 and was the last individual champion. The women’s team has won the NCAA regional twice, most recently in 2019. 

    Morning forecasts for Stillwater are predicting temperatures in the high 50s with clear skies and no chance of rain.

    In order to qualify for next week’s NCAA Championships, the Illini must finish either first or second overall or be selected as an at-large team. The top four individuals who do not belong to selected teams will also compete in the championships, along with two individuals selected at-large. 

     

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