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Cross country to compete at Bradley this weekend

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Cross country to compete at Bradley this weekend

By Jonah Pérez, Staff Writer

The Illini look to bounce back from their low finish at the Nuttycombe Invitational, where they placed 29th out of 33 teams.

They were originally slated to participate in the Pre-Nationals Invitational at Wisconsin this Saturday, but they decided to head to Bradley for the Ideal Rentals Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria instead.

“Our goals at Bradley will be to continue to develop our team development during races,” said head coach Sarah Haveman. “Racing with one another, building throughout a race, finding one another; so we are going to continue to work on our team chemistry.”

This meet is great preparation for the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Nov. 9, according to Haveman. She said Bradley is a much better choice because it gives runners experience on the regional course, and it’s closer to home. 

According to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll, nine of the top 15 teams in the Midwest region will be at Bradley. No. 3 Minnesota is the only Big Ten team ranked above No. 6 Illinois.

At regionals, teams from nine regions that place in the top two get an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, while the rest have at-large bids that rely on the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The next 13 at-large teams typically receive bids. 

The meet is also good preparation for the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 28 because four other conference teams will be running alongside the Illini in Peoria. 

This meet marks the last road trip before Illinois comes back to campus to prepare for the Illini Open on Oct. 19. 

“It will be a good opportunity for a good training block,” said junior Caleb Hummer. “We’ve had some good stretches of training … some guys will start gearing up for the home meet, and the rest of us will get ready for the Big Ten (Championships), and I think it will be a good amount of time for us to get ready for that race.”

Junior Zack Dale said most of the Illini won’t have to compete in the Illini Open, giving them plenty of rest and time for last-minute preparations.

The upcoming home meet will be a great break from the traveling the Illini have done this season.

This meet is set to host 39 participating schools, with No. 21 Indiana and No. 41 Minnesota as notable national competitors based on U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national coaches poll.

“It’s exactly what we need,” Dale said. “I don’t think there’s any team there that we can’t compete head to head with, so I think it will be a really good challenge for us. We just need to continue what we’ve been doing and really allow ourselves to go for it.”
  

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