U of Illinois Star In The Making Jon Davis Leads Alumni Report

Former Illinois prep legend Jon Davis (Oakwood) stars for the Illini (U of Illinois photo credit)

Excerpt courtesy of U of I athletic department: 

MADISON, WI - A week after running the fourth-fastest 8,000 meters in Fighting Illini men's cross country history, sophomore Jon Davis laid claim to the eighth-fastest time with a 23:51.0 performance to place sixth individually in a loaded Ed Nuttycombe Invite field. As a team, the Orange and Blue placed 28th overall.

"Jon Davis had an exceptional day," said head coach Jake Stewart. "To finish where he did in that field is a national-quality run, and that by no means surprises us. As a team, we have some things to shore up; and I think we all know we are much better than we preformed today. We have to put this one behind us quickly, and understand there's a lot more that we can run for."

In a field that featured 20 ranked teams, Jon Davis navigated his way through the course, staying within the top-20 at each two-kilometer checkpoint and finishing with a pace of 4:48 per mile. After moving up to ninth at the race's midpoint, Davis dropped back to 20that the race's three-quarter mark. But, much like he did at Louisville two weeks prior, Davis saved his best kick for last as he used a 4:29 pace in the final two kilometers to bypass fourteen runners.

"It shows the constant maturity and confidence that he's developing in cross country," Stewart said of the Illini sophomore. "He was 20th at 6,000 meters and picked off a lot of really good runners in the final 2,000 meters. I think he's just figuring it out week by week. He has an uncanny ability to put something in his head and go out there and follow through with it. I'm really not surprised by Jon's performance. It's just a continuation of the things that he's developing as an athlete."  

Just eight seconds behind his time in Louisville on September 30, Davis has twice finished 8,000 meters in less than 24 minutes at back-to-back meets. The last Illini to run two sub-24:00 minute races in the same season was Dylan Lafond in 2015 when he did so at three meets, including his school record time of 23:22.4 at Big Ten Championships.

Running second and third for the Illini was junior Jesse Reiser and redshirt junior Billy Magnesen, respectively. Reiser finished with a time of 24:58.1, while Magnesen came across the line a split second later at 24:58.7.

Following Reiser and Magnesen for fourth on the team was redshirt junior Zack Smith with a time of 25:12.8. Concluding the Illinois scoring was redshirt freshman Jack LaLonde's time of 25:54.6.

In the men's open race, redshirt sophomore Zach Dale and senior Garrett Lee led the Illini, finishing back-to-back with times of 25:22.1 and 25:22.4, respectively. For Lee, the 25:22.4 marked a season-best performance.

Next Friday, October 20, the Illini will host the final regular season meet of the season, the Illini Open at 4 p.m. central time. The 2017 postseason begins the following week with Big Ten Championships at Indiana.

"I think we're a national-level team and we're going to go out and carry ourselves in that manner," said Stewart. "I don't think today is indicative in any way, shape or form of who we are. I think the performances we've had to this point, and how we carry ourselves every day at practice, is a much better indication of who we are and we're going to show that."  

For complete coverage of Fighting Illini cross country, visit FightingIllini.com, 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. 

Oct 9, 2017 - Oct 15, 2017

Mississippi College Choctaw Open

Oct 14, 2017 in Clinton, MS

Principia Cowbell Classic

Oct 14, 2017 in Elsah, IL

6,000 Meter Run

8000 Meter Run

Illinois College Invitational

Oct 14, 2017 in Jacksonville, IL

8000 Meter Run

NCAA Division I (DI) Pre-Nationals

Oct 14, 2017 in Louisville, KY

8000 Meter Run

Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational

Oct 14, 2017 in Winneconne, WI

Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble

Oct 14, 2017 in Oberlin, OH

UW-Oshkosh Kollege Town Invitational

Oct 14, 2017 in Oshkosh, WI

6,000 Meter Run

8000 Meter Run

Bradley Pink Classic

Oct 13, 2017 in Peoria, IL

6,000 Meter Run

8000 Meter Run

Alabama Crimson Classic

Oct 13, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, AL

Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational

Oct 13, 2017 in Madison, WI

Wisconsin Private College Championships

Oct 14, 2017 in West Allis, WI