Illini Head To Penn State For Big Ten Championships
Oct. 28, 1999
The University of Illinois men?s and women?s cross country teams leave for State College, Pennsylvania to compete in the 1999 Big Ten Cross Country Championships on Saturday, October 30. The men?s 8,000-meter race will begin at 10:30 am (time listed is central).
No current member of the men's team has raced on Penn State?s difficult, hilly terrain. However, head coach Gary Wieneke has experience on the PSU Blue and White Courses. Wieneke hopes that things go as well on this trip to Penn State as they did on his last visit. That was in 1975 when the Illini took 10th place at the NCAA Championships and Craig Virgin placed first to earn the individual national title. The team goes in to the meet with the aim of moving back into the upper half of the conference. In 1998, the team finished a disappointing eighth, only the second lower division finish for the Illini in the last 26 seasons under Wieneke?s direction.
But it won?t be easy. There are three teams ranked in the Top 25, #5 Wisconsin, #8 Michigan, and #24 Minnesota. Michigan is the defending Big Ten champion.
?This is an opportunity to advance back into the top half of the conference and earn some recognition,? Wieneke says. ?We?ve raced pretty well this season, but it?s time to step up and compete above and beyond the level where we?ve been. The training and work has been excellent leading up to this point, it?s now time to convert that work ethic into a solid performance in a championship meet.?
The Illini will be lead by senior Scott McClennan, who hopes to garner All-Big Ten honors along with leading the team to a strong finish. Ryan Eason, Illinois? most improved runner in 1999, looks to score along with teammates Jon Russell and Mike Lucchesi.
Following the Big Ten meet, th team will have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, hosted by the University of Illinois. The meet will be on Saturday, November 13 at the UI Blue Golf Course in Savoy.