Women’s cross-country makes progress at pre-nationals

The Illinois women’s cross-country team continues to progress after strong finishes in both the pre-nationals meet and the Bradley Classic.

“There were some really bright spots,” head coach Scott Jones said. “We really put ourselves in a good position.”

The team finished fourth in its respective race with 218 points at the pre-nationals meet on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. Sophomore Alyssa Schneider led the team for the fourth-straight meet with a time of 21 minutes, nine seconds, finishing eighth overall. The 8K race, which featured a 35-team field, was held at the site of the 2013 NCAA Championships.

Jones had emphasized during the week of practice that the team had to run strong throughout the race to have a strong finish, even implementing new techniques, including a high-paced practice.

“We worked really hard in the middle of the race, now we just have to complete it,” Jones said. “We didn’t finish as strongly as I would have liked, but the final push will come with time.”

Senior Katie Porada was the second Illini to cross the finish line at 21:43 to place 20th, while Amanda Fox finished just behind her at 21:44. Both Hanna Winter (22:23) and Audrey Blazek (22:45) set new personal bests, and Stephanie Morgan (22:49) and Britten Petrey (23:41) topped off the race for the Illini.

California took first place with 105 points, as the Golden Bears’ Kelsey Sanisteban won the individual race with a time of 20:18.

Jones is hoping his team will continue to work at running a more complete race for better finishes as the season starts to wind down, with the last meet of the regular season on Friday at home and the Big Ten Championships on Nov. 3.

”It was very important for us to be there with the top teams in the country and see the big picture of what other people are doing and what we’re capable of doing,” Jones said.

The Illini also had runners compete at the Bradley Classic in Peoria this past Friday. Rachel Irion led the squad with a personal-best 6K time of 22:12, finishing 54th overall. Michelle Frigo (22:42) and Megan Lemersal (22:53) finished next, also setting PRs, as well as Valarie Bobart (23:09), Kim Seger (23:16) and Ellie Palacios (23:43). Chloe Schmidt was the last to finish with a time of 24:29.

Michal can be reached at [email protected] and @bennythebull94.