It was a brutally hot day for the club’s first full meet of the season, but the blazing heat didn’t stop some blazing performances. When the team got an e-mail from President Eric titled, “HHHOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT!!,” everyone realized that conditions would be less than ideal. Both the men and women put together solid performances as dozens of IXC runners made their collegiate debut. By my unofficial count, the men placed third of 14 teams and the women placed third of 15.
Leading the charge for the men once again was Evan White. The heat didn’t seem to bother him as he covered the “Panther Trail” in 26:51, nearly a 15 second improvement from last year’s meet, a much faster race.
Freshman Nick Bushelle turned heads last week at the Illini Challenge, those heads turned again this week as another freshman followed close behind him the whole race. Michael Frintner made his debut in an Illinois singlet this weekend, and finished just a second behind his classmate. On Nick, Frintner said: “He’s my rock.” This dynamic duo of freshmen will be a pair to keep an eye on this season.
Rounding out the scoring five for the Illini men were Greg “Old Greg” Netols and Eric “El Presidente” de Guevara. Another tight pack followed as Jack Morrissey, Joe “Zany” Zeller, and Jared Ripoli finished together in the span of three seconds. Morrissey’s performance is even more impressive considering his bountiful facial hair, which probably made it feel even hotter.
Shout-outs are due to all of the new club members who grinded out their first collegiate 8K in the scorching heat: Jack O’Neil, Austin “Chief” Kuehr, Quinn “the Mighty” Todzo, Brian “B-Griff” Griffin, Cody Hansen, Danny Johnson, Ziggy “Stardust” Zamora, Eduardo “E-Money/E-Ticket” Martinez, Jacob Wilson, Corey Zeinstra, Alex Erwin. These guys toughed it out on a rough day for a five mile race and will only get faster. The men’s team also won in number of participants, there’s something to be said for that on a day with awful running weather.
For the women, freshmen Erin McKee didn’t mess around in her collegiate debut, finishing first for the team in 19:25. Emma Grimes, coming off a huge track season, finished second in 19:33, a whopping 40 seconds better than last year, despite the sweltering conditions. Finishing out the top five were women’s captain and post-race cookie distributor Megan Mocogni, Emma Burkhardt, and Heather Guetterman.
Everyone’s favorite social coordinator Thea Cudnowski and freshman Emily Foley finished back to back as the final members of the top seven. EIU dominated the top of the race by sweeping spots two thru six, but the ladies of IXC held their own, edging out SIU-Edwardsville by just three points to take third place. (There will be a rematch on the Cougars’ home course in a few weeks at the John Flamer Invite.)
Anna Piazza and Angela Wu made their debuts with the club team at EIU, pushing through the heat to kick off the season and their college running careers. It was great to see so many athletes race with the club for the first time, and it’s a huge freshman class. Also, for those of you counting at home, there are already two freshmen, for both genders, who already look like top seven contenders: Nick Bushelle and Michael Frintner for the men and Erin McKee and Lexy Rudofsky for the women. That’s a pretty impressive start for the class of 2018, and who knows what to expect from everyone else as the season goes on.
Coach Krauk said that the results from Friday were about what he expected. After the race, he explained that the first few weeks of training together in Champaign probably hasn’t kicked in. Now the club has time to put in some hard work and prepare for Augustana’ Brisman-Lundee Invitational on September 26.