Senior Hunter Mickow was one of two Illini to qualify for the NCAA Championships after finishing sixth at Midwest Regionals.
Nov. 9, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Fighting Illini men's cross country team placed fourth out of 29 teams and qualified two for the national championships at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Friday in Springfield, Mo. The finish is the highest for the Illini since the 2002 season.
"It was an awesome day for Hunter and Jannis to both qualify," head coach Jake Stewart said. "They got in the mix and put themselves amongst a group of really talented guys."
For the second consecutive year, two Illini automatically qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships. Senior Hunter Mickow led Illinois and finished sixth overall, completing the 10K race in 30:29.27 and becoming the highest finisher for the Orange and Blue since Trent Hoerr finished first in 2007. Joining Mickow is teammate Jannis Topfer who finished the course with a time of 30:40.51 and placed 13th overall. Both Mickow and Topfer earn All-Region honors for their finish and will race at the national meet for the first time in their careers.
"Hunter has grown tremendously since the start of his freshman year," Stewart said. "I'm really proud of him and all he has accomplished this season. The race really separated itself between the seven and eight kilometer mark and Jannis made a commitment to race in the front group. He's gotten better all year."
Crossing the finish line third for the Orange and Blue was senior Jordan Hebert, who timed 31:05 with a 26th place finish overall. Also scoring points for the Illini were redshirt-freshmen Tommy King (31:40) and Ian Barnett (31:42), who finished 54th and 55th, respectively.
"It was a tough course and a tough day," Stewart said. "It was super windy and the hardest course we had seen all year. We hung in there and got the job done, now we sit and wait."
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State tied with 45 points for the team title, narrowly beating Tulsa which scored 47 total tallies. Tulsa's Chris O'Hare won the individual crown with a 10K time of 30:25.
The Illini will wait until tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT to see if they qualify as a team. If the Orange and Blue advance to the NCAA Championships next Saturday, Nov. 17 as a squad, it will be the first time in 26 years.
TEAM RESULTS (out of 29)
1. Oklahoma 45
1. Oklahoma State 45
3. Tulsa 47
4. ILLINOIS 154