EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Illinois men’s cross-country team ran fourth at the Big Ten Championships on Sunday, the program’s highest finish in 16 years.
The Illini were led by Jannis Topfer, who finished ninth on the 8-kilometer course in 24 minutes, 6 seconds. His time, a personal best, was the 10th fastest in school history.
“The most exciting thing is that we showed up and ran confidently,” Illini coach Jake Stewart said. “They took a hold of the situation and made it happen on their own.”
UI senior Hunter Mickow was 10th, and redshirt freshman Ian Barnett was 18th.
“Both Jannis and Hunter ran really well,” Stewart said. “They broke away early and didn’t panic when a top-10 finish was something they could achieve.”
The Illinois women, who claimed ninth, were led by an eighth-place finish from Courtney Yaeger.
Yaeger ran the 6-kilometers in 20:34, putting her fifth all time at Illinois. Alyssa Schneider checked in 22nd.
“Courtney ran a great race,” UI women’s coach Jeremy Rasmussen said. “Her and Alyssa were right where we thought they’d be. Overall as a team it’s a bit disappointing. Our goal was to be in the top half of the race and we were in position three miles into the race. We lost some ground at the end. We need to pick each other up and stick together.”
Wisconsin won the men’s title, and Michigan claimed the women’s crown.
Illini swept. Illinois had leads in the second and third sets, but the 10th-ranked Gophers proved too tough, sweeping the Illini 25-19, 26-24, 25-23.
Annie Luhrsen dished out 28 assists in her return to the starting lineup, and Liz McMahon and Jocelynn Birks each had nine kills to pace Illinois, which dropped its third straight match.
The loss drops Illinois to 10-12 and 4-8 in the Big Ten. The Illini are tied for seventh.
In women’s golf:
Thirati paces Illini. Pimploy Thirati (73-73) tied for 19th at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas.
The Illini finished 14th at the 15-team meet.
In men’s tennis:
Hiltzik shines. Illinois’ Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse won their doubles match, and Hiltzik was 3-0 in singles at the Conference Challenge at College Station, Texas.
Julian Childers also finished 3-0 in singles for the Illini.
Illini seeded fifth. The Illinois soccer team will take on fourth-seeded Minnesota at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Big Ten tournament, hosted by Indiana.
The Gophers beat Illinois 3-0 earlier this season.