Women's Cross Country, Track & Field
Women's Cross Country Season Preview

Alyssa Schneider returns for the Illini after earning All-Region honors in 2012.
Alyssa Schneider returns for the Illini after earning All-Region honors in 2012.

Aug 27, 2013

Champaign, Ill. --The Illinois women's cross country team will be guided by first-year head coach Scott Jones, who comes to Illinois after spending 17 seasons at The University of Akron, including five as the head women's cross country coach. A two-time MAC Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year, Jones looks forward to his first season as an Illini.

"I'm extremely excited, and the welcome I've received from both the staff and the athletes has been very gratifying," said Jones. "The reception has been wonderful and I feel right at home. The transition has occurred remarkably quickly with us, so I think that's going to be a really positive thing for us going forward."

The Illini graduated four seniors from last year's squad, including All-Region honoree Courtney Yaeger. Returning for the Orange and Blue will be redshirt-sophomore Alyssa Schneider, who also earned All-Region honors after placing 12th at the NCAA Midwest Regionals, along with sophomore Amanda Fox and senior Katie Porada, who all scored points for the Illini at the Big Ten Championships last season.

Also returning for the Illini will be Rachel Irion, junior Chloe Schmidt, and sophomore Lindsey Rakosnik, who all have postseason experience.

"We have a tremendous amount of talent, so I think that we can have very optimistic goals for a successful season," said Jones. "I've been very focused on what we at Illinois need to be doing to have the best season we can. We're taking things first thing's first, but we can be very good."

Illinois begins the season at home on August 30 with the Illini Challenge. Two weeks later the Orange and Blue will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., the site of the 2013 Big Ten Championships, for the Boilermaker Invitational.

"I've never been to a meet here at the Arboretum, so we'll open things up with a new experience, which will be great," said Jones. "I've been to Purdue, which will be the site of both our second meet and the Big Ten Championships. The course has been modified since I've been there, but the fact that we're going there on September 13 will be a big benefit for us as we head to the Big Ten meet."

Illinois will compete four times in October, traveling to the Notre Dame Invitational, Bradley Classic, and Pre-National Invite, then ending the regular season at home with the Illini Open.

Postseason competition begins on Sunday, Nov. 3 with the Big Ten Championships in West Lafayette, Ind. Less than two weeks later, on Friday, Nov. 15, the Orange and Blue travel to Ames, Iowa for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. The top two teams at regionals will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.

"We are part of the legacy of the Illinois women's cross country program," said Jones. "It's part of our roots as a program of having four top-ten national finishes in the past 10 years. We want to use that in a way that it gives us confidence, that we know we can be successful at Illinois, and we want that to be a standard that we aspire to."