Sept. 5, 2001
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois men's and women's cross country teams open the 2001 season this Friday and Saturday, when the women travel to Peoria Ill., for the Bradley Open and the men head to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Meet of Champions.
The women run their event Friday evening, with start time scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Women's Cross Country Coach Michelle Byrne will send a young group of runners to the Bradley event, with the hopes of getting them some collegiate experience before beginning a grueling schedule.
"I am looking forward to seeing how our freshmen compete in a race situations," cross country coach Michelle Byrne said. "They are ready to race, and they are eager. This meet is on the same course where they ran the state meet, so from that standpoint, it will be fun to watch since they have ran the course before."
Despite traveling four newcomers and one sophomore to Bradley, Byrne has an experienced group returning, including every runner who helped the Illini earn a fourth-place finish at last year's Big Ten Championships.
Traveling this week for the women's squad will be a group of four newcomers, Joy Braun, Molly Flanagan, Amy Guard and Jamie Turilli, and a sophomore, Emily Capron. While Guard is a newcomer to the Illini, she isn't to Division I cross country. Last season, Guard ran for the University of Kentucky, where she finished 20th overall at the 2000 SEC Championships as a freshman.
On the men's side, head coach Gary Wieneke will send 10 runners to West Lafayette, Ind., to compete in Saturday's Meet of Champions hosted by Purdue.
The event gives the Illini an early season glimpse of the Big Ten's strength, as the field features three teams from the conference (Illinois, Iowa and Purdue) and Big East power Georgetown.
While the roster includes plenty of new names, head coach Gary Wieneke, he won't be without experience. A pair of runners who logged a considerable amount of course time for Illinois in 1999 return after redshirting one year ago.
"We are anxious to get into competition," head coach Gary Wieneke said. "It is always good to see how the team will respond to competition after the practices leading up to the meet. I have been encouraged by this team's attitude. Their attitude about practice and their execution has been great during workouts."