The Illinois men's cross country team is set to compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Springfield, Mo., on Friday, Nov. 9, hosted by Missouri State University. The 10K race will begin at 1:15 p.m. CT on the Missouri State Cross Country Course Facility.
The top two finishing teams receive an automatic berth to the NCAA National Championships, as well as the top four runners who are not a part of a team that qualifies for nationals. The NCAA National Championships will be hosted by the University of Louisville on Nov. 17. Illinois qualified two individuals (Jordan Hebert and Jim Riddle) for the national championships last year and last qualified as a team for the NCAA Championships in 1986.
Last year at the NCAA Midwest Regional, the Illini placed fifth of 25 teams in the 10K race. Jim Riddle led the Illini and finished 12th overall while current senior Jordan Hebert finished 17th overall, both earning All-Region honors and qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Crossing the finish line third for the squad was Colin Mickow (35th), followed by Phil Pompei (43rd) and Nathan Troester (51st).
COACH STEWART ON THE MEET
"The biggest change will be moving to the 10K distance. We're a team that can translate to the longer distance nicely. We're in a very tough and deep region including the number one team in the country in Oklahoma State. It will definitely be another competitive meet. We need to continue to keep doing the things we have been successful in. Keeping our one-five gap very small and continue to move forward will be key. Jannis and Hunter will be up front with Jordan being an athlete who has run this distance before. We'll look to them as upperclassmen to lead the charge and to help the younger group since many of them have never ran this distance competitively."
The Midwest Regional field consists of 29 squads, led by seven-time defending champion and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State. Three other teams in the region are ranked in the latest USTFCCCA national poll, including No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 19 Tulsa and No. 29 Tulsa. The Illini are ranked fifth in the Midwest Region heading into the meet.
THE RUNNING ILLINI
The Orange and Blue will send seven runners, including three seniors, three redshirt-freshmen and one true freshman. Senior Jordan Hebert is the lone Illini from last year's regional roster as he finished 17th overall with a time of 31:40. Teammate Hunter Mickow competed in the regional meet in 2008, finishing second for the Orange and Blue. He also has Big Ten experience on the track as he competed in the 10,000m last season at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, scoring points for the Illini and finishing seventh overall.
2012 NCAA REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER
Jereme Atchison // Freshman // Arlington Heights, Ill.
Ran for the Illini at the Big Ten Championships, finishing with an 8K time of 25:31 ... Finished second on the team at the Bradley Classic, recording an 8K time of 24:58 ... Ran unattached at the Illini Challenge, finishing fifth overall with a 6K time of 18:48.
Ian Barnett // R-freshman // Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Ran a career best 8K time of 24:20 at the Big Ten Championships, finishing 18th overall ... Finished in the top four on the squad in each of the races competed in, including placing first at the Illinois Intercollegiate ... Placed third for the Illini and 123rd overall at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, setting a time of 24:23 in his first collegiate race of that distance ... Set a personal-best 6K time of 18:46 at the Illini Challenge, finishing fourth overall.
Jordan Hebert // Senior // Elmhurst, Ill.
Set a personal best 8K time of 24:22 and finished 21st overall at the Big Ten Championships ... Scored points for the Illini at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, finishing fifth and covering the 8K course in 24:35 ... Was part of the roster which competed at the Notre Dame Invitational.
Tommy King // R-freshman // Winnetka, Ill.
Scored for the Illini at Big Ten Championships with a 28th-place finish overall ... Paced the Illini for the first time in his career, finishing first for the squad and second overall with an 6K time of 18:41 at the Illini Challenge ... Clocked an 8K time of 24:28 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, scoring for the Illini after finishing fourth and placing 147th overall ... Finished third for the Illini at the Notre Dame Invitational ... Has scored points for the team in each race he's competed in this season.
Hunter Mickow // Senior // Princeton, Ill.
In his Big Ten Championships debut, finished 10th overall with an 8K time of 24:07 ... Received second-team All-Big Ten honors ... Set back-to-back personal-bests, starting with his 8K time of 24:13 at the Notre Dame Invitational where he finished 24th overall ... Reset personal-best at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, finishing the course in a time of 23:58 which ranks fifth fastest in school history.
Sam Telfer // R-Freshman // La Grange, Ill.
Ran for the Illini at the Big Ten Championships, finishing with an 8K time of 25:35 ... Finished third on the squad (18:51) and helped Illinois win its eighth consecutive Illini Challenge title ... Crossed the line first for Illinois at the Bradley Classic, finishing with an 8K time of 24:58 ... Was part of the roster
for the Notre Dame Invitational.
Jannis Topfer // Senior // Bochum, Germany
Finished first for the Illini at the Big Ten Championships with a personal best 8K time of 24:06 ... Received second-team All-Big Ten honors for ninth place finish at Big Ten Championships ... His time at the Big Ten Championships is 10th fastest 8K finish in school history ... In his Illinois debut, finished in the top-27 at the Notre Dame Invitational and second on the team with a five-mile time of 24:17 ... Finished runner-up on the squad at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, setting a career-best 8K time of 24:11 ... Has scored points for the Illini in each race he's competed in this year.