Illinois women’s cross-country prepares for Roy Griak Invite

The Illinois women’s cross-country team looks to build on a first-place finish at Illinois State two weeks ago at Saturday’s Roy Griak Invite in Minneapolis. This will be the Illini’s first time competing in the meet and the third meet of the season. 

In the season-opening Illini Challenge at the UI Arboretum, sophomore Alyssa Schneider won the meet, finishing with a time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds. Junior Amanda Fox finished fourth with a time of 18:09. 

This weekend will be the first meet where the Illini will compete against ranked competition. Because of the increase in competition, they are excited for the challenge and are feeling confident, especially heading into their biggest meet thus far.

“I’m really excited because I think we have a lot of momentum after the win at ISU,” Fox said. “We’ve been having great workouts and really been working together as a team, so I think we can definitely work together these next meets and really push ourselves.”

The team’s preparation goes far beyond the track, as it feels relaxed and ready to fight for a win or another top-five finish, something that this core has accomplished through two meets.

“I think we’re going into this one the same as we would going into conference or regionals or any big meet,” Schneider said. “We’ve been thinking about it ever since our last one and just preparing how we usually do, but our mindset’s got to be to get there and fight.”

What leads into preparation, though?  Of course, there’s the endurance and training, but what else goes into preparing for a meet and even coaching a cross-country team?

“There’s a certain amount of basic knowledge just about running and training, the details of what you want to be doing to develop fitness,” second-year head coach Scott Jones said. “But I think the main thing is to develop a culture where people are excited about coming to practice, working hard and testing their limits.” 

The 36-team event includes the likes of No. 30 North Carolina, No. 20 Boise State, No. 11 Butler and No. 9 Iowa State among other nonconference opponents. The meet will also feature conference opponents, Nebraska, No. 28 Minnesota and No. 3 Michigan State. 

Alex can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @awallner93.