Illinois women’s cross-country finishes 18th at Roy Griak Invite

Fresh off of a win at the Illinois State Invite two weeks ago, the Illinois women’s cross-country team traveled to Minnesota on Sunday to compete in the Roy Griak Invite.  

The Illini finished in 18th place in what was their first time competing at the 35-team event. No. 3 Michigan State won and No. 9 Iowa State finished second.

Out of 390 runners, Illinois had two finish in the top 100. Junior Alyssa Schneider finished the 6K event in 58th with a time of 22 minutes, 30 seconds. Junior Amanda Fox finished 91st with a time of 23:05.

This was the Illini’s first competition of the season against ranked teams, and one which they are using as a learning experience heading forward.

“We haven’t been in this kind of environment with this many teams and this many good teams,” head coach Scott Jones said.  “To be successful you would have to have been there before, so we will know what to expect the next time out.”

Eighteenth place might not have been what the team had expected, but Jones thought they could build on it, especially with regionals approaching.

“This one gave us the chance to attest where things are,” Jones said. “We’ll take a few days to recover from this one, then we’ll get back to the training we’ll do to elevate where we are.”

The event featured six top-25 teams. At one point in the meet, Schneider was ahead of top runners from most of the schools.

In the end, Illinois’ best runner was not pleased with her performance.

“I wasn’t satisfied with today’s race,” Schneider said. “We’ll have to do a lot better for the next one; it was a learning experience.”

At the 4000-meter mark of the meet, Schneider was in fifteenth place.

Starting out slow after the first kilometer, Fox picked it up heading into the final stages of the race. Fox was 209th after the first kilometer and finished 91st, passing more than 100 runners.

As a result from the slow start, Fox feels that she has to work even harder to not let that happen again in such a big event.

“I know we can get a lot better for the next meet, so we don’t have to work as hard to make up so much ground and so we can finish a lot better,” Fox said.

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