Orange and Blue Finish Fourth at Big Ten Championships
Oct. 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Fighting Illini men's cross country team took fourth at the Big Ten Championships on Sunday with a team total of 86 points, the highest finish for the program in 16 years. Jannis Topfer led all Illini on the Forest Akers East Golf Course, placing ninth overall with the tenth-fastest time in school history and a personal-best 8K time of 24:06.
"The most exciting thing is that we showed up and ran confidently," head coach Jake Stewart said. "They took a hold of the situation and made it happen on their own."
Topfer paced the Illini effort for the first time in his career and was the highest individual finisher at the conference meet since 2007 when Trent Hoerr placed third. Senior Hunter Mickow finished right behind Topfer, taking 10th overall with a time of 24:07 in his first conference cross country meet of his career. The two earned second-team All-Big Ten honors for their efforts.
"Both Jannis and Hunter ran really well," Stewart said. "They broke away early and didn't panic when a top-10 finish was something they could achieve."
Redshirt-freshman Ian Barnett, making his Big Ten Championships debut, came in 18th overall with a time of 24:20, a new career-best time at that distance. A few seconds later, senior Jordan Hebert crossed the finish line, clocking a personal-best time of 24:22 and placing 21st overall. Teammate Tommy King timed 24:32 and rounded out Illini scoring with 28th-place finish.
"Ian had an unreal day," Stewart said. "I'm very pleased with his performance. For him to improve so much over the season and run like that today, bodes well today. He ran aggressively and moved forward. Jordan is making progress and had another step in the right direction. Tommy ran a pretty race, taking a lot of guys late. He stuck his nose in there and had a heck of a day."
"It's back to work tomorrow," Stewart said. "We're going to continue to focus on things we can control. Race off instinct. We can still improve in the next few weeks for Regionals."
Wisconsin captured the team title for the 14th year in a row with 33 points followed by Michigan (65) in second and Indiana (79) in third. Senior Zachary Mayhew of Indiana took the individual title with an 8K time of 23:30.
The Illini will have a week off before the NCAA Midwest Regional meet in Springfield, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 9.