ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Bradley women's cross country team was picked to finish second according to a pre-season vote of Missouri Valley Conference coaches and the men's squad was tabbed to finish sixth according to an announcement by the league office Monday.
Both teams return the bulk of their lineups, which helped the squads to their best conference finishes since 2009. The women's team received one of 10 first-place votes and a total of 83 points to edge third-place Wichita State (82 points) by one point for second in the preseason poll. After a third-place finish in 2011, the Braves are looking for their first top-two finish at the Valley championship since taking second in 2002.
On the men's side, last year's seventh-place finish was BU's top performance since 2009. The Braves had a total of 34 points in the preseason poll to finish behind Illinois State (49) and ahead of Northern Iowa (26 points).
The women's team had three top-15 finishers at last year's Valley championship and return seven of eight individuals who helped the team to a third-place finish at the 2011 MVC Championship. Leading the way for BU will be sophomore Sarah McMahon (Colfax, Wis./Colfax), who was a three-time all-conference performer as a freshman and went on to claim Bradley's Most Outstanding Female Athlete award in 2011-12.
Sophomore Emily Delvo (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin) was one of the team's top three finishers in five of six meets last fall and was 12th at the MVC Cross Country Championship. Junior Cassie Lohmeier (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) will help provide leadership for a team which features a total of 26 underclassmen. Lohmeier was a Valley Scholar-Athlete in 2011 after finishing 14th at last fall's conference championship.
Boasting one of its deepest teams in recent years, the men's squad features six of seven individuals who scored at the 2011 MVC Championship. In addition to leadership of seniors Jon Richards (Streator, Ill./Streator) and Nick Skromme (Ottawa, Ill./Marquette), the men's team will likely be paced by sophomore Marshall Moyer (Burlington, Iowa/Burlington).
Bradley's top finisher in four of six events as a freshman, Moyer was 29th at the MVC Championship last year and won the individual title at the Bradley Open. Fellow sophomore Chase Coffey (Hanna City, Ill./Farmington) looks to build on a strong finish to his freshman season, after finishing in BU's top five in three of his final four meets last fall.
The Braves open the 2012 season with the first of two home meets, hosting the Bradley Open Sept. 7 at Detweiller Park.
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