Illini hire cross-country coach

Illini hire cross-country coach

CHAMPAIGN — Jake Stewart, who spent last year as an assistant track and field/cross-country coach at Purdue, will lead the Illini cross-country team in the fall and head up the distance crew during the track season, UI head track and field coach Mike Turk announced.

"I can't overstate how excited I am to join Coach Turk's coaching staff at the University of Illinois," Stewart said. "We have a tremendous opportunity to build a distance program at Illinois that is consistently competing amongst the best in the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA. I am looking forward to getting on campus and working with the student-athletes we already have in place. It's an exciting time in the program, and I am looking forward to being a part of it."

Stewart was the cross-country coach and assistant track coach for three seasons at Lamar before joining the Boilermakers and was named the Southland Conference's Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Prior to that, Stewart spent three seasons at his alma mater, Iona.

In golf:

Stricker in the mix. Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods each carried momentum into the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. That meant the best 36-hole score for Furyk in his PGA Tour career and the worst start for Woods in nearly fourth months.

Furyk had another good day with the putter, making a few birdies early and saving par from the bunker four times on the back nine at Firestone for a 4-under 66 and a 2-shot lead over Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain. Former Illini Steve Stricker carded his second consecutive 68 and was at 136.

It helped that Furyk opened with a 63 on Thursday afternoon, allowing him to turn around Friday morning and try to resume his good play. That's what he did, starting with a tricky birdie putt on the second hole and following his lone bogey with a 20-foot birdie on the ninth.

"Just probably a little easier to keep the momentum going that way than having an early time on Thursday, having a good round and having to sit on it until Friday afternoon," he said. "I thought it was key to get off to a nice start and see some putts go in. Made a good birdie putt at 2, and saw some birdies go in on the front nine, good putt at 9, and off to the races."

He was at 11-under 129, 2 shots clear of Cabrera-Bello, who had a 65. Louis Oosthuizen used his putter from just off the ninth green to finish with a birdie and a 65, leaving him 3 shots behind going into the weekend of this World Golf Championship event. Jason Dufner had a 66 in the afternoon and was 4 shots behind.

Woods, a seven-time winner at Firestone, had a 72 and was at 2-over 142, his highest 36-hole score to par since his 3-over-145 start at the Masters.

In tennis:

Anderson out. Good friends Mardy Fish and Tommy Haas set up a semifinal showdown in the Citi Open in Washington.

The top-seeded Fish beat Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-4 on Friday, and the fourth-seeded Haas routed Tobias Kamke 6-1, 6-2. Haas is 3-1 against Fish.

Second-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov will face eighth-seeded Sam Querrey in the other semifinal. Querrey, the winner last week in Los Angeles, beat third-seeded Kevin Anderson, a former Illini, 6-4, 6-4, and Dolgopolov topped James Blake 7-6 (3), 6-4.

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