Illinois takes 19th at Wisconsin adidas Invite

The Illinois men’s cross-country team took 19th place out of the 35-team field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Saturday to round out a busy weekend. The men’s “B” team took eighth overall at the Bradley Pink Classic on Friday.

Senior Jannis Toepfer led the Illini with a personal-best time of 23 minutes, 50 seconds, which was good for 28th place overall among the field that featured 20 ranked teams in Wisconsin. His run tied for fourth-best in school history. Liam Markham (24:08, 62nd), Ian Barnett (24:14, 81st), Brendan McDonnell (24:37, 152nd), Will Brewster (24:48, 179th) and Paul Zeman (25:06, 219th) all set personal bests as well on Saturday.

“I think it says a lot when six guys run a personal best,” Illinois head coach Jake Stewart said. “Jannis didn’t have his best day, and he still ran much better than he has previously at that distance. Liam and Ian both had very good days, their plan was to run off one another for the majority of the race, and they did that. Will had a real solid day, and Brendan continues to be very good in his first season at the varsity level. It was a much better day for everyone.”

The Illini finished ahead of six ranked teams: No. 21 UCLA, No. 22 Minnesota, No. 24 Georgetown, No. 26 Florida, No. 27 Dartmouth and No. 30 Arizona State. Illinois was ranked for the first time in 15 years earlier this season before a poor showing on Oct. 4 at Notre Dame following two weeks of inactivity.

All Illinois runners that also ran the Notre Dame Invitational improved upon those times by at least 45 seconds. Brendan McDonnell improved his time by 1:08.

“I think there’s a greater sense of relief out of the group more than anything else,” Stewart said. “We didn’t have the performance at Notre Dame that we were hoping to have and we knew with the Big Ten Championships coming in two weeks’ time that we needed to have a solid meet today, and we did that.”

Third-ranked Northern Arizona took first in the event. Kemoy Campbell of Arkansas won the individual title with a time of 23:12.

Friday, Jordan Hebert of Illinois finished first overall while running unattached. Luke Carroll led the Illinois “B” team with a personal best of his own, finishing 11th overall at the Bradley Pink Classic with a time of 24:48. Ryan Burgoon (25:44) and Jon Vaccaro (26:19) also set personal bests for the Illini, as did Garrett Lee (25:00), Alex Gold (25:16) and Joe Cowlin (25:27), who all ran unattached.

Bradley won the team competition Friday. It was the first time it had won its annual home meet.

Illinois will finish the regular season with a home meet of its own. The Illinois Open is scheduled for 4:40 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 25 at the UI Arboretum.

Thomas can be reached at [email protected]