The Daily Illini

Sophomore becomes second in Illini history to win regionals

By Jared Farmer, Staff writer

In the Big Ten Cross-Country Championships two weeks ago, sophomore Jon Davis finished ninth place overall.

Dissatisfied with the finish, he went back to basics.

Despite earning All-Big Ten honors, Davis was confident that he could’ve won. This Friday at the Midwest Regional, he did just that.

“Coach and I talked and analyzed my race at Big Tens,” Davis said. “We came to the conclusion that there were a lot of fixable things that we could improve on, so we did that. I still ran well back at Wisconsin, so I came in with the belief that I could win the regional. We went out and executed our strategy, and I’m proud of the results.”

With a first place finish at 29:06.2 in the men’s 10,000-meter race, Davis led the men’s cross-country team to a fourth-place finish, while freshman Rebecca Craddock finished 40th overall in the women’s 6,000-meter race with a time of 21:07.5 and led the women’s team to a 24th place finish.

“I think today was a solid day for us,” said Craddock. “I set a new PR, which was how I wanted to close out the season. I’m excited for next year already, and it’s been a good start so far to my career here.”

Coming in second for the women’s team was senior Nicole Choquette with a time of 22:02.4, who ran in tandem with freshmen Allison McGrath (22:04.9) and Nicki Cast (22:11.1) throughout the race. Choquette, McGrath and Cast finished in 131st, 133rd and 142nd places respectively.

“I think we did a really good job packing running today,” said Craddock. “Everybody had a PR today, so that’s also something to be proud of. We gave it our best effort out there, so I’m really proud of what we did.”

Coming in fourth and fifth for the women’s team was senior Miranda Marry and freshmen Katie Stapleton, finishing just over a second apart from each other with times of 22:58.6 and 22:59.8.

Iowa State won the women’s race with 90 points, while Oklahoma State came in second with 103 points. The Illini finished 24th with 636 points.

“I definitely think we’re all more confident in our racing abilities now,” said Craddock. “We’ve all had several PR’s throughout the season, and that makes you hungry for more. We came in with a lot of freshmen this year, so we’ve had to learn about each other. I feel like the positivity of the team has made us click, and now we’ve learned to run and stick together.”

On the men’s side, coming in second to Davis for the Illini was junior Jesse Reiser, finishing 12th place with a time of 29:20.9. Finishing third, fourth and fifth for the Illini were juniors Zach Smith (29:48.4) and Billy Magnesen (29:48.6) and freshmen Jack Lalonde (29:49.9), finishing 27th, 28th, and 30th respectively.

Iowa State also won the men’s race with 69 points overall, followed by Oklahoma State, who secured a second-place team finish with 74 points. The Illini finished fourth with 98 points, losing in a tiebreaker with Tulsa for the third spot.

Finishing outside of the top two, neither the men’s or women’s team will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. There are 13 remaining spots to be filled that the teams could take, and 38 individual spots for runners should either team not qualify. Because of his first-place finish, Davis will qualify individually to run at the NCAA Championships next weekend. This will be the second NCAA Championship race that Davis has competed in.

“As a team, we did what coach and everyone on the team expected out of ourselves,” said Davis. “We ran just as good, if not better than what we did last year as a team. I think it’s just the circumstances that explain why we didn’t qualify as a team, but I’m still really proud of the guys for giving the best effort.”

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