Illinois men’s cross country takes third at Bradley Pink Classic

By Jonah Pérez, Staff Writer

The No.7 regionally-ranked Illini improved at the Ideal Rentals Bradley Pink Classic on Friday at Bradley University in Peoria, where they placed 3rd out of 33.

“It went really well,” head coach Sarah Haveman said. “We’re pleased with how they were able to work through the race and find each other, there was a lot of victories on the day.”

Bradley and Grand Valley State finished ahead of Illinois. The meet hosted two other teams from the Big Ten Conference, Indiana and Nebraska, finishing 5th and 22nd respectively. Originally four Big Ten teams were slated to go; however, Iowa and Minnesota pulled out at the last minute. 

It was a big turn around for the Illini in comparison to their last outing at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Wisconsin, where they placed 29th out of 33. The Bradley meet was a big turnaround for the team and the results spell good fortune for the Big Ten Championships Oct. 28th at Nebraska.

“Where we are as a team, I think we took another step forward today,” senior Dan Lathrop said. “There were guys who ran pretty well, and a few guys who still are in the training and are going to have better days. I think Logan (Hall) ran pretty well as a freshman . . . We still have a lot of work to do going into Big Ten (Championships), but we’re in a good spot.”

Not only was the Bradley meet on the regional course, but this meet also included about half of the teams in Illinois’ region, which made the meet a preview for what’s to come. Regionally, No. 6 Illinois placed second out of eight, finishing behind No. 7 Bradley. The finish adds to the team’s confidence going into the Midwest Regionals on Nov. 9 back at Bradley.

“The course conditions today were pretty much as bad as they can get out there,” said junior Zack Dale. “I think it’s a good sign moving forward into the regional where a lot of times this course is in better conditions and we know what can be thrown at us now. I think we can take confidence from that and use that to our advantage.”

Next, the Illini have the Illini Open on Oct. 19 at the University’s Arboretum.

Coach Haveman explained that the top group won’t be racing at this meet, however, it’s a chance for the team’s developmental athletes to showcase their improvement and where they belong on the Illini.

“We’ve got a couple of weeks, so we have got just a little bit more training to go . . . nothing too crazy,” said Lathrop. “A lot of the work we have got in the season is already there . . . we have a week of training and then from there the week leading up to Big Ten (Championships) . . . but that week will be more preparing for Big Ten and getting our legs ready to go before we head out to Nebraska.”

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