Illinois women’s cross-country host Illini Classic

The Illinois women’s cross-country team returns to the Illinois Arboretum on Friday for the Illini Classic. This weekend is the last competition for Illinois before the Big Ten championships in Iowa City, Iowa.

With the Big Tens coming up on Nov. 2, distance coach Scott Jones has decided to rest his two best runners, Alyssa Schneider and Amanda Fox.

“We felt doing workouts this week would serve them better than racing,” Jones said.

Jones added that the new runners will have another competition under their belts, and it will help him see how they’ve improved from the beginning of the season.

Freshmen Denise Branch and Courtney Ackerman will be competing in their second event of the season, and Jones is excited to see how they’ve progressed. Freshman Nicole Choquette will be making her college debut.

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Jones is excited to have freshman Samantha Lapp back as well. Lapp, who has competed in two meets this year, returns from a mid-season illness that sidelined her for the last two competitions.

Junior Colette Falsey is hoping for a strong performance on Friday to set her up for Big Tens.

“Having a good performance this week will help reaffirm our belief in ourselves that we are fit and ready to run against the girls in our conference,” Falsey said.

Falsey added that getting out to an early lead would be a big factor on Friday. She also mentioned that it is an opportunity for others to get their feet wet with more competitions.

A third win of the season would give this team even more momentum, and without its two best runners, would show the rest of the conference the depth the Illini possess.

The Big Ten is one of the best cross-country conferences in the country, and the Illini are using Friday’s tournament as preparation for Iowa City.

“I’m viewing this race as a tune-up for the Big Ten Conference race next weekend while still looking at it as a vital part of the training I will need in order to perform well in the more important races coming up,” sophomore Hanna Winter said. 

The Big Ten has three teams in the top 10 nationally: No. 1 Michigan State, No. 4 Michigan and No. 8 Wisconsin. The Illini can prepare for those top squads by putting in a strong performance on Friday.

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