The Illinois men's cross country team is set to compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in DeKalb, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 12, hosted by Northern Illinois University. The 10K race will begin at 12 p.m. CT at Anderson Field.
The top two finishing teams receive an automatic berth to the NCAA National Championships, as well the top four runners who are not a part of a team that qualifies for nationals. The NCAA National Championships will be hosted by Indiana State University on Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. Illinois last qualified as a team for the NCAA Championships in 1986 and last had an individual qualify in 2007 when Trent Hoerr won the regional title.
Last year at the NCAA Midwest Regional, the Illini placed fifth of 25 teams in the 10K race. Jim Riddle and Dan Kremske earned All-Region accolades with 17th and 24th place finishes. Nathan Troester crossed the finish line fourth for the Orange and Blue and 34th overall, while Colin Mickow finished just a second after in 35th. Rounding out the Illini scoring was junior Chris DeSilva placing 52nd overall.
COACH KENNEDY ON THE MEET
"Our training the past two weeks has gone pretty well. I think our focus is still on the team and going to nationals as a squad. If the individuals turn up and do what they're supposed to do then the team will be right where we need to be in order to move on in the future. We have a lot of stiff competition this weekend and I'm putting the pressure on all seven runners to get the job done. There are certain individuals these guys need to beat and I'm really looking to see if they do what I ask for the race on Saturday. I need this team to give themselves a fighting shot of going to nationals."
The Midwest Regional field consists of 29 squads, led by six-time defending champion and No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State. Three other teams in the region are ranked in the latest USTFCCCA national poll, including No. 5 Oklahoma, Big Ten rival and No. 18 Minnesota, and No. 27 Tulsa. The Illini are ranked sixth in the Midwest Region heading into the meet. Below are the top-10 teams in the regional rankings:
LAST TIME OUT
The Orange and Blue took seventh at the Big Ten Championships with a team total of 181 points. Junior Jordan Hebert led all Illini on the home course, placing 22nd overall with a personal-best 8K time of 24:26. Hebert paced the Illini effort for the second time in his career and improved his conference finish by 13 spots from a year ago when he took 35th.
Senior Jim Riddle finshed behind Hebert, taking 30th overall with a time of 24:32. Finishing seven seconds behind Riddle was teammate Colin Mickow who crossed the line with a time of 24:39. Seniors Phil Pompei and Dan Kremske rounded out the Illini scoring with Pompei finishing 46th overall with a time of 24:49 and Kremske coming in at 47th in a time of 24:51. Two other Illini competed, with senior Kyle Engnell finishing 56th overall with a time of 25:08 and senior Nathan Troester coming in 79th overall with a time of 25:48.
ILLINI SET TO RUN
The Orange and Blue will send seven runners, including six seniors and one junior to compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Five Illini from last year's regional roster, Colin Mickow, Jim Riddle, Nathan Troester, Jordan Hebert, and Dan Kremske, will race again this season, while senior Phil Pompei, an alternate for the 2010 regional team, will compete for the Illini. Kyle Engnell, a member of the 2009 regional team will also be competing again for the Orange and Blue.
2011 NCAA Regional Championships Roster
Kyle Engnell // Senior // Homer Glen, Ill.
Finished sixth for the Illini and 56th overall with an 8K time of 25:08 at the Big Ten Championships ... Was a member of the racing lineup for the Illini at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
Jordan Hebert // Junior // Elmhurst, Ill.
Led the Illini at the Big Ten Championships and took 22nd overall with a personal-best 8K time of 24:26 ... Led the Illini at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, with an 8K time of 24:31 and taking 49th overall ... Competed in the Illini Challenge, finishing with a 6K time of 18:56 and scoring for the Illini, finishing second for the Orange and Blue and third overall.
Dan Kremske // Senior // Woodstock, Ill.
Placed fifth for the Orange and Blue and 47th overall with an 8K time of 24:51 at the Big Ten Championships ... Paced the Illini for the third time in his career, finishing first for the Illini and second overall with an 8K time of 24:25 at the Orange and Blue Preview ... Clocked an 8K time of 25:07 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, scoring for the Illini after finishing fourth and placing 147th overall.
Colin Mickow // Senior // Princeton, Ill.
Scored points for the Illini, placing third for the Orange and Blue and 36th overall with an 8K time of 24:39 at the Big Ten Championships ... Placed second for the Illini and third overall at the Orange and Blue Preview with an 8K time of 24:29 ... Finished third for the Orange and Blue and 136th overall at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational with an 8K time of 25:02 ... Has finished in the top three for the Illini at three meets he ran in this season.
Phil Pompei // Senior // Los Altos, Calif.
Ran a 24:49 8K time and came in fourth for the Illini and 46th overall at the Big Ten Championships ... Finished fifth for Illinois and 17th overall at the Orange and Blue Preview with an 8K time of 25:25 ... Placed ninth in the B race of the Wisconsin adidas Invitational with an 8K time of 25:16.
Jim Riddle // Senior // Naperville, Ill.
Finished 30th overall and took second for Illinois at the Big Ten Championships with an 8K time of 24:32 ... Placed second for the Illini and 82nd overall at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational with an 8K time of 24:43.
Nathan Troester // Senior // Mokena, Ill.
Took seventh for the Orange and Blue and 79th overall with an 8K time of 23:18 at the Big Ten Championships ... Raced to a 6K time of 19:08 at the Illini Challenge, finishing sixth overall and fifth for Illinois ... Placed sixth at the Orange and Blue Preview, running an 8K time of 24:42 and scoring for the Orange and Blue as their third runner ... Finished sixth for the Illini and 239th overall at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational with an 8K time of 26:16.