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IU cross-country set for Illini Open


The IU men's cross-country team warms up before its race in the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29, 2017, at the IU Championship Cross Country Course. IU will race in Illini Open this weekend. Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

IU cross-country is set to compete in the Illini Open on Oct. 19 in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. 

This meet serves as the climax for the runners who will not take part in the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 28 and beyond.

“It’s a season-culminating meet for those runners who are not moving on,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “We’re taking nine onto the Big Ten meet, and from that nine, we will select our seven that will run in the regional meet."

As the top runners prepare for the Big Ten Championship race, younger runners will receive a chance to run one more time for themselves to see just how far they’ve come since the beginning of the season.

On the women’s side, the team has six runners that have propelled themselves to a top-10 ranking in the nation.

The men’s team is young and inexperienced with 18 of the team’s 27 runners as underclassmen. Last week at the Bradley Pink Classic, the men’s team placed fifth while their top runners traveled to Pre Nationals. 

“For all of them, they need to go out there and have a really nice effort,” Helmer said.

IU will race on the University of Illinois Arboretum, which was constructed in 2003 and has since been the permanent home of the Illinois’s cross-country program.

The women’s 5K consists of two loops around the course, while the men’s 8K consists of three. For the IU runners whose cross-country seasons are coming to a close, Helmer said they’ll start the transition to track and field as the indoor season draws nearer. 

Helmer mentioned how important these meets can be in terms of developing depth for a team. On the men’s side, sophomore Hunter Moore and freshman Reese Jordan will be a part of the nine runners who will compete at the Big Ten meet after their performances at the Bradley Pink Classic.

Graduate student Kenneth Hagen, sophomore Cooper Williams, and freshmen Jackson Jett and Aaron Bennett are expected to run at the Illini Open. 

For the women’s team, sophomore Hannah Stoffel and junior Grace Walther will move up to race in the Big Ten Championship, leaving sophomore Joely Pinkston, freshman Lorena Daugherty and sophomore Amy Smith to run on Friday in Urbana-Champaign. 

“Success is the greatest motivator there is,” Helmer said. “It just keeps them engaged and motivated and moving forward.”

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