The Women’s Cross Country season has kicked off strong with a series of three races, each with increasing distance and better team finishes. The ladies have looked this year to face tougher opponents and prove they can compete well with other schools in the NCAA programs. The first race hosted by Elmhurst College was 4km in 90-degree heat that ended with a team finish of sixth out of a twelve team field.
The following Saturday, a 5k race was held at University Wisconsin-Parkside, known for its toughest first mile - an all uphill climb. This gave the team a taste of some bigger competition as they went against resilient Division I and II schools such as Butler, Northern Michigan, Northwestern, and Winona State. The team kept fighting though and ended with a 13th place finish in a 17 team field, only barely beaten by Carthage College. With this in mind, the women’s team entered their next race, the Gill Dodd’s Invite with new goals in mind. This 6k Course was flat, wound through woods, and a series of three 2k laps. The women approached the starting line knowing that this race was longer, but also an opportunity. Courtney Rouse finished first for the Scarlet Hawks, 16th place overall, with a time of 23:49. Closely behind her was Anne Crotteau with a difference of only 7 seconds, landing her a solid 19th placing. Sara Glade then outkicked several opponents on the final stretch of the course, landing both a 31st placing and a 24:33 finish. The final two team scores were rounded out by Greta Zola and April Wanagas. After the numbers were crunched, Illinois Tech ended up finishing 5th in the 12 team field being beaten by WashU-St. Louis, Illinois Wesleyan, Lake Forest, and the host school Wheaton. However, the ladies managed to out race previous opponent Carthage College, making the next race that they hold together even more competitive.
Though the distances have varied, through comparing mile splits week to week, the ladies have seen improvement and are looking forward to the next race back at the same flat course, but this next time, racing only a 5k. Finishing out the four week series of back to back racing, next week’s field will be bigger and with each week, every girl grows stronger. With this in mind the ladies will toe the starting line with focus and excitement once again to prove themselves against the tick of the clock.