Schneider head to nationals for Illini cross-country

Alyssa Schneider will look to build upon momentum from the NCAA regional as she prepares to run in the NCAA Championships on Saturday.

The sophomore Schneider was projected to finish in the twenties but ended up finishing fifth overall at regionals. 

“I was surprised to finish as well as I did,” Schneider said. “It’s been a goal of mine for a long time and to just have it happen in my sophomore year makes me excited.”

She will be competing in her first nationals meet in Terre Haute, Ind. Many believe this should be her second nationals meet, due to the irregularities last year.

The majority of the time, those who finish in the top 25 in the regional meet qualify for the nationals meet. Schneider finished 12th in last year’s meet, earning all-regional honors, but did not qualify to compete at nationals. The top four runners on teams that do not qualify for nationals qualify as individuals. She was not in the top four.  

Schneider was +motivated by this and worked all season so nothing would get in the way of her getting to nationals. She started slow at the first few meets, but progressed as the season moved towards the end.

“At regionals, it finally came together,” said Schneider, who thought she ran her best meet of the season. “Persistence, hard work, and knowing that at some point was going to click, and it finally did.”

She will prepare herself with a “championship mentality,” but knows that all the hard work has already been put in and it is just time to race.

Tuesday was her final hard workout before the meet. She has been running with a few of her teammates and the members from the men’s team who will also be running in the men’s meet. Schneider said it is important to not do anything radical and just stick with the routine.

Schneider hopes to finish in the top 60, as she continues to look into the competition. She and head coach Scott Jones will be traveling with Jannis Toepfer, who will be competing in the men’s nationals meet.

Looking forward

Coming off what Jones believed to the be the team’s best race at nationals, the runners who didn’t qualify for nationals will start to make the transition into the track and field season.

The Illini will be practicing by doing athletic activities that don’t necessarily have to be running this week. During the fall break, they will continue to run, but also rest up after a long season. Once they return from break, they will start to practice with the track and field team.

Jones is happy with the way Illinois has progressed this season, and hopes his team is able to use this momentum heading into the track and field season and into next year’s cross-country season.

“We’ve made tremendous strides this season,” Jones said. “We’ve done a lot of productive work, which we’ll see in the track season.” 

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