A few months ago, I wrote about my ballot for the top 40 Illini athletes of the past decade.
At No. 8 on my list was current senior cross country runner Angela Bizzarri, who was sandwiched between basketball greats Dee Brown and Deron Williams.
After this week, Bizzarri just jumped a few spots on my rankings - maybe even to the top.
In her last cross country run, Bizzarri ran away with the national championship at the national championship, winning the title by just under five seconds. She ran a 19:46.8 in the 5K race, smashing her previous PR of 19:59.
"This was my last cross country race, and it was a perfect way to end it," Bizzarri said in a press release. "I didn't want to start out the race too fast because I prefer going out more even. But I still wanted to keep in close contact with the lead group, and I felt like I did a good job with that. Eventually with the last two or three kilometers, the front of the pack started coming back to me and I was able to capitalize on that, which worked out to my advantage. It was a great race, and I am so excited."
Coming into the season, all eyes were on Bizzarri to go out on a high note to end a remkarable campaign at Illinois, but few expected Bizzarri to win the national title the way she did. In the midst of a troublesome time on campus full of admission scandals, resignations, and a bad, bad football team, this incredible feat shines.
Bizzarri, the first female cross country national champion in Illinois history, should be recognized for what she is - a remarkable Fighting Illini.