Jim Riddle has a strong freshmen class for the Illini.
Oct. 16, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. - After two weeks away from competition, the Fighting Illini men's cross country team will get back on the course this weekend for their toughest challenge yet this season. Illinois will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday Oct. 18, for the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet. Over 80 teams will be competing in two separate 8K races on the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Championship Course.
Some of the nation's top talent will be on display at the event, with 22 of the top 30 ranked teams competing. The Illini will face 11 ranked opponents, including #2 Oklahoma State, #3 Colorado, #7 Iona, and #10 Stanford.
"From our perspective, the meet gives us a great opportunity to compete against some of the top teams and individuals in the country," cross country coach Wendel McRaven said. "With our youth, this meet will help us not only prepare for this season, but lay the building blocks for future years."
Junior Jeremy Stevens again looks to lead the way for the Illini. The Winnebago, Ill., native captured back to back individual titles at the Illini's first two meets of the season. Stevens also provides the experience for the Orange and Blue and will be counted on to help the underclassmen prepare for such a high level race.
For the strong freshmen class led by Jim Riddle, the event will be the first taste of competition against the top collegiate teams and individuals. Riddle led the way for the Illini two weeks ago at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational. The class as a whole has proven they can compete at the collegiate level finishing six of the top seven for the Illini in every meet, so far this season.
"We want to get these young guys as much high level experience as we can heading into the championship time of the season," McRaven said. "This is our final tune-up for Big Tens and NCAA Regionals and this weekend will hopefully give us some positive feedback for the stretch run."
The Illini are set to run in the white race at 11:50 p.m. A full recap and results will be available at FightingIllini.com following the event.