Illinois women’s cross-country wins at the Bradley Invite

Following a two-week layoff, the Illinois women’s cross country team won the 30-team Bradley Invite on Friday.

Alyssa Schneider had the Illini’s top finish with a time of 20 minutes, 49 seconds, which put her third overall. Junior Colette Falsey finished 15th with a time of 21:39 and sophomore Hanna Winter finished 19th with a time of 21:48. The win was the Illini’s second of the season  and highlighted the things that the team has worked on at practice. 

“Winning the meet at Bradley was definitely a reconfirmation that all of our hard work is sinking in,” Falsey said. “It gives us a lot of momentum and confidence going into our next couple meets. The Big Ten conference meet is the focus of our season and this was perfect for us two weeks out from it.”

With a two-week gap in competition, the Illini had plenty of time get in good workouts after a poor performance at the Roy Griak Invite.

“I felt that the race went well,” Schneider said. “I wasn’t completely content with it because I always know there is something I want to improve on in the next race.”

The win definitely not only helped build momentum for the upcoming weeks but also heading into the last portion of the season. Head coach Scott Jones believes that there is no better practice for the Big Ten Championships than competing against other teams. 

“Almost across the board, we raced better than we did in Minnesota. That really helps our confidence,” Jones said. “The race wasn’t pretty, so we know we will not have a problem keeping our feet on the ground and we will be working hard to get ready for the Big Ten meet.”

Jones believes his team focused on the things that it could control. As a team, the Illini didn’t focus on their competition.

“We did not discuss the other teams or runners, or formulate a race plan around them,” Jones said. “We felt that if we performed as we were capable of performing, we would be successful as a team. It didn’t seem we ever really found our rhythm in the race but we battled the whole way.”

Even though the win was not in the way that the team would have planned, Jones was still happy regardless. He also enjoyed how other players helped in deciding the outcome.

“We got a really nice race from Hanna Winter, which was probably the difference in us winning the meet,” Jones said. “We also had Denise Branch and Courtney Ackerman running their first collegiate cross country races. It was nice to see them in a uniform and competing the entire 6K.”

With one meet left before conference, receiving help from names that fans are not accustomed to seeing is definitely a positive.

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