Jesse Reiser Leads U of Illinois To Big Performance In Alumni Report

Former McHenry High School star Jesse Reiser had a banner day in Boston (U of Illinois photo credit)

U of Illinois athletic department press release

BOSTON, MA - Junior Jesse Reiser used a pace of 4:35 in the final 3,000 meters to win the 2017 Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown 8,000-meter race with a time of 24:12. Sophomore teammate Jon Davis followed one second behind Reiser to give Illinois a sweep of the top-two spots on Friday at Franklin Park. As a team, the 27th ranked Illini tallied 56 points to place second behind No. 3 Syracuse (35) and beat No. 21 Indiana (106).

"In both composure and competitiveness, it was as mature of a race as we've run since I've been here," said head coach Jake Stewart. "It was a wet, sloppy, windy day, and, throughout the whole race, every time we saw the guys they were within themselves and in control. It was really fun to watch the last part of the race unfold after the way our guys set up the first 5,000 meters."

Competing against the third place team from 2016 NCAA Championships in No. 3 Syracuse and the third place team from last season's Big Ten Championships in Indiana, the Illini showed on Friday that they belong amongst the best in both the conference and the nation this season.

Sitting in the lead pack throughout the race, Reiser and Davis held a 5:01 pace through the first 5,000 meters. Sitting in fourth and fifth place, respectively, the duo made a surge in the final three kilometers with a blistering pace of 4:35 through the chute to beat out a trio of Syracuse runners, including All-Americans Colin Bennie (3rd) and Philo Germano (4th), and reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ben Veatch of Indiana (6th). 

"For Jesse, that's what we recruited him for," Coach Stewart said of the race champion. "That was his best cross country race since he's been here. I saw him with 600 meters to go and he had a little bit of work to do, so he made up a lot of ground and got to the front. For Jon, he took a spill at three-and-a-half miles, but got back up on his feet and kept really good composure to keep himself in the race. Jon went flying past a group at the end. They're both really confident and really fit. They're by no means at their best point in the season, but they're in a groove right now with a lot of confidence."

For Reiser, it marks his best collegiate finish of his career since he took 11th place at Big Ten Championships in 2015 to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The McHenry High School product is the first Illini to win a collegiate race since Jannis Toepfer won the Illini Challenge on August 30, 2013.

"Having a group of guys like this and having such a good energy everyday relieves a lot of stress and I believe that played a big factor in us running so well today," said Reiser after his victory. "The culture of this team has been amazing to be around so far and I'm looking forward to progressing through the season with these guys."

Like Reiser, Davis' finish is his best since joining the Illini, topping a third-place finish at the Bluegrass Invite in his collegiate debut last season. The time of 24:13 ties his collegiate best from his 27th place finish at the 2016 Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite.

Redshirt juniors Zack Smith, Billy Magnesen and Dan Lathrop added three more top-25 finishes for the Orange and Blue, giving them five total for the meet. Using a pace of 4:57, Smith finished 13th overall with a time of 24:39, while Magnesen was three seconds behind Smith to take 15th overall. Lathrop rounded out the scoring for the Illini with a time of 24:57.

"It's just a continuation of everything they've done to this point," Stewart said of the three juniors. "They just have so much experience over the course of their career here. There isn't a lot now that they're not prepared to do, and their training has been consistence. They're into their fourth year in the program, and third year racing, so they're seasoned and prepared for whatever type of race comes at them."

The Fighting Illini will look to continue their success in 2017 next weekend, as the Orange and Blue get a preview of the NCAA Championship course at the Louisville Greater Classic on Saturday, September 30. The men's seeded race will begin at 9 a.m. central time with an unseeded race at 11:30 a.m.

For complete coverage of Fighting Illini cross country, visit, follow the Illini on Twitter (@IlliniMXC and @IlliniWXC) and Instagram (@IlliniMXC and @IlliniWXC) and like Fighting Illini Men's Cross Country and Fighting Illini Women's Cross Country on Facebook. 

Illinois Individual Results 

1. Jesse Reiser, 24:12

2. Jon Davis, 24:13

13. Zack Smith, 24:39

15. Billy Magnesen, 24:42

25. Dan Lathrop, 24:57

30. Zach Dale, 25:04

43. Jack LaLonde, 25:18

56. Alex Keeble, 25:30

Team Scores:

1.Syracuse - 35

2.Illinois - 56

3. Indiana - 106

4. Brown - 117

5. Boston  - 131

Sep 18, 2017 - Sep 24, 2017

Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown

Sep 22, 2017 in Boston, MA

MIAA Conference Jamboree

Sep 23, 2017 in Holland, MI

Six Flags XC Open

Sep 23, 2017 in , MO

5,000 Meter Run

5,000 Meter Run

Beloit Olde English Invitational

Sep 23, 2017 in Beloit, WI

5,000 Meter Run

Trevecca DII Showcase

Sep 23, 2017 in Nashville, TN

Brissman/Lundeen Invitational

Sep 22, 2017 in Rock Island, IL

5,000 Meter Run

Four Mile Run

Roy Griak Invitational

Sep 23, 2017 in St. Paul, MN

6,000 Meter Run