Illini take third place at Bradley

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

The Illini women’s cross country team finished third at Friday’s Ideal Rentals Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, behind Iowa State and South Dakota and ahead of strong Minnesota, Bradley and Northern Illinois teams.

The Illini finished within 90 seconds of each other, with freshman Madison Marasco finishing ninth overall to lead the Illini with a time of 20:50.4.

“It was our first 6K under our belt this year,” Marasco said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can do over the next couple races.”

Despite less-than-ideal conditions, including cold and snow, the team still performed well. Marasco said while the course, particularly its hills, was slippery, the team focused more on executing the strategy of a strong start, running a solid race and finishing close together.

Coach Sarah Haveman said the team has worked in practices on finishing in close proximity. She also added this race was the first six-kilometer race the team has run this season, and the team has trained for both 5K and 6K races. For many runners, it was the first 6K race of their college career.

“We had four women who it was their very first 6K, so the key part was addressing it,” Haveman said. “Getting them to understand that our execution stays the same and our approach stays the same.”

Bradley is about 90 miles from Champaign-Urbana, giving the Illini one of their closest meets of the season. 

“It did feel awesome to be able to run close to home,” Marasco said. “It definitely is awesome to be able to go farther away, too.”

Marasco said the team is prepared for the Illini Open based off strong performances, but also because the meet marks its first home race. However, the Open will feature a different lineup. Haveman plans to rest top runners in anticipation of the Big Ten and NCAA meets coming up.

“We might use it as a race to determine who will race at Big Tens,” Haveman said.

The Illini will return to Champaign for their first home meet of the season on Friday at the University of Illinois Arboretum.

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