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

Jack Roberts ready to represent Illinois at national championships

Senior Jack Roberts looks to put the finishing touches on his impressive season this Saturday as he competes in his first NCAA championships.

This year, the championships take place at Panorama Farms Cross Country Course in Charlottesville, Virginia. The men’s 10K is slated to begin at 10:10 a.m. CT. 

Roberts, Illinois’ lone qualifier for the meet, has set the pace all season. He finished inside the top ten at all five meets this season, winning three. He recorded the seventh-fastest 8K in program history at 23:48.8 at the Gans Creek Classic on Sep. 29. 

In addition to his trio of victories, Roberts earned the All Big-Ten second-team accolade following his ninth-place finish at the Big Ten championships. He was also named Scholar-Athlete of the Week for the week of Nov. 6-12.

At the NCAA Midwest Regionals last week, Roberts finished 10th (30:27.6). He earned his spot in the championships by being one of the top four individual finishers who did not belong to a qualifying team. 

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    Roberts is the first Illinois runner to qualify for the championships since 2021 when Jon Davis qualified but could not finish the race. The last Illini to place at the men’s championships was Dylan Lafond, who took 56th (30:34.6) in 2016.

    Only three Illini have ever turned in top-10 finishes at the men’s championships: Clarence Dunn, who finished sixth in 1942, Frank Hedgcock, who took ninth in 1956 and Craig Virgin, whose 1975 victory represents the only time an Illini has won the championships. 

    Across the Big Ten, Wisconsin and Michigan qualified for the men’s race as teams, while Michigan State’s Andrew Nolan and Iowa’s Max Murphy, who finished just a hair ahead of Roberts at regionals, qualified as individuals. 

    Wisconsin also qualified for the women’s race as a team, as did Michigan State. Ohio State’s Addie Engel and Daniella Santos, Michigan’s Kayla Windemuller and Northwestern’s Ava Earl qualified as individuals. 

    Last season, Stanford senior Charles Hicks won the championships with a time of 28:43.6. Northern Arizona captured the team victory with 83 points. It was led by Nico Young and Drew Bosley, who finished second and third, respectively. Hicks has since graduated, but Young and Bosley return as part of a Northern Arizona team that won the NCAA Mountain regional in convincing fashion.

    NC State secured the women’s team title after tallying 114 points. They were led by Katelyn Tuohy, the individual champion, and Kelsey Chmiel, who placed third. Florida sophomore Parker Valby finished second. 

    The Saturday morning forecast for Charlottesville calls for temperatures in the mid-50s with clear skies and little wind. 

    The races will be broadcast live over ESPNU and the ESPN app, with coverage beginning at 8:30 a.m. CT. 

     

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