Women’s cross-country to take on strong field at Wisconsin adidas Invite

With two weeks to prepare following a strong showing against a massive field, the Illinois women’s cross-country team is confident entering its most challenging meet of the season thus far.

“We’re excited to get back out onto the course,” head coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. “We’ve had some good training over the course of the last week and a half or so since we ran at Loyola. We’re really looking forward to seeing some great competition this weekend and seeing where we finish by the end.”

The Illini finished fourth out of 45 teams at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, hosted by Loyola Chicago, last time out and is looking to improve on that mark as they head into Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis.

“We definitely want to be fired up and get ready, because there’s going to be a lot of competition out there,” freshman Britten Petrey said. “It’s a good chance for us to test ourselves, push ourselves to the limits and take the chance of being that great team that we could be. I definitely think we’re getting fired up.”

The Illini will face a field of 42 teams, including nine Big Ten opponents and 18 of the 30 nationally ranked teams.

“It’s another big race for us,” Rasmussen said. “A big part of us going there is to mix it up, see where we’re at and really give us an opportunity to figure out what we need to do as we continue to mature for this year, but also as we continue to move on into the future.”

The team has had reason for optimism so far and will look to gain some momentum with the Big Ten Championships approaching Oct. 30.

“One of the things that I thought we did a good job at two weeks ago was getting out well,” Rasmussen said. “But at the same time, one of the things we didn’t do very well last time was being able to finish.”

The meet in Wisconsin is not the only event the Illini compete in this weekend. Illinois will also send three runners to the Bradley Classic in Peoria, Ill., in addition to the nine runners heading to Madison.

“We’re trying to get an opportunity for everyone to race this weekend,” Rasmussen said. “We’re trying to give everybody a level of competition that they’re going to be comfortable with.”

Heading to Wisconsin are Madeline Aufmann, Meghan Frigo, Katie Porada and Courtney Yaeger, all of whom finished near the top for the Illini in their last meet.

“We’re a little bit more focused on what we want to get done,” Porada said. “We have our minds set a little differently to what we’re preparing for. Going into a meet as big as this, you have to be confident in order to have success, otherwise there’s really no point in showing up.”