Men’s XC season ends with hope for future meets

By Jonah Pérez, Staff Writer

At the beginning of the year, the Illini were predicted to finish third at the NCAA Midwest Regional but fell short of expectations; however, an up-and-down season without a couple of top runners sent the team in an opposite direction.

Senior Jesse Reiser and junior Jon Davis were redshirted at the beginning of the season and were unable to help the team. The Illini ended finishing 11th out of 31 at the meet.

Senior Dan Lathrop called it “tough” when you lose two of your top runners, but was happy with how everybody dealt with the adversity.

Head coach Sarah Haveman was on the same page and said she was pleased with how her runners handled the season in the midst of the difficult position the Illini were in.

“My biggest takeaway from the season is that we’re really proud of the way, that given the circumstances we were dealt, how a lot of our men stepped up,” Haveman said. “We’re really proud of how Dan and Billy (Magnesen) expanded into roles of leaders and also how Colin (Yandel) and Logan Hall stepped up as the true freshmen who contributed to our top five.”

Next season, Reiser and Davis will be back, and the underclassmen will have a few more races under their belts.

A highlight for this season, according to Lathrop, was how well the freshmen performed throughout the season. The underclassmen finished in several of the higher spots throughout the year.

But Lathrop is also passionate about how much better the Illini will be next season.

“This is going to be a really successful team in the coming years once we get guys healthy, and so I’m really excited to see what guys do in the future,” Lathrop said. “I’m really looking forward to indoor, outdoor track and seeing some of the things they can accomplish.”

Lathrop is a fifth-year senior and has a lot of memories he cherishes. He said it was one of his dreams to be an athlete for the University, and feels really satisfied with his time here.

“There are two (memories) that come back to me that stand out,” Lathrop said. “The first one was my sophomore year when we were able to place second at Big Tens, and the other one was my junior year when we qualified for nationals for the first time since 1986.”

He looked back at his accomplishments and felt it was something to be proud of. Lathrop has seen a lot of change during his time at Illinois, but most importantly, he’s seen the men’s cross country program improve. He said he’s thankful for all of his teammates and coaches, who’ve worked tirelessly to bring the program up.

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