PEORIA, Ill. -- The Bradley men's and women's cross country teams will help kick off a busy weekend of homecoming events for Bradley Athletics, hosting the ninth annual Bradley Classic supported by the Farnsworth Group Friday afternoon at Newman golf course.
The meet, which is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., will feature competitors from 23 schools on the men's side and 27 squads in the two women's races, including over half of the teams from the Missouri Valley Conference. The field includes representatives from six women's teams appearing in the regional rankings and three men's squads.
Head Coach Marc Burns says both teams are preparing to show what they are made of in such a wide field of competition.
"We are expecting a strong, emotional effort from both [Bradley] teams on Friday," Burns said. "This is our homecoming meet on our home course. We need to learn how to defend our home turf and do all that we can to run well on Friday. We have never won the Classic before so it would be great to be in the mix."
Both teams have been making progress, and Coach Burns anticipates seeing the women finish in the top 3 Friday, while expecting the men to place in the top 10.
As far as individual runners go, both teams have ample individuals capable of making an impact. On the men's side, sophomores Chase Coffey (Hanna City, Ill./Farmington) and Eric Delvo (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin) are running well, according to Burns, and there are several other runners who are ready to step up this Friday.
The women's side is looking solid across the board, with sophomore Sarah McMahon (Colfax, Wis./Colfax) and junior Cassie Lohmeier (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) leading the way for the Braves, in addition to sophomore Emily Delvo (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin). A string of freshmen should follow close behind in Liz Smits (McFarland, Wis./McFarland), Caitlin Busch (Waterloo, Ill./Freeburg), Lauren Houmes (Hoopeston, Ill./Hoopeston) and Rachel Sudbury (Tomahawk, Wis./Tomahawk).
"Our women should be in the hunt to challenge for the title Friday," Burns said. "Our men are trying to put together a complete race. We have not fired on all cylinders yet and we feel like the team is ready to make some big progress this week. More importantly for us, we need to get five to seven guys racing well on the same day."
There are four races beginning at 3 p.m. at Newman golf course. The men's 8K college/open race will start things off followed by the women's 6K college/open race at 3:40 p.m. The championship races are scheduled for 4:25 p.m. (men's 8K) and 5:05 p.m. (women's 6K).
The Bradley Classic is the first of many home events planned during homecoming weekend. The "Cram the Coliseum" event follows the Bradley Classic with the Bradley volleyball team facing Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. and the men's and women's basketball teams' annual Red-White Scrimmage following the completion of the volleyball match at Renaissance Coliseum. Saturday's events include a 4 p.m. volleyball match against Evansville at Renaissance Coliseum and a 6:30 p.m. soccer game against Evansville at Shea Stadium.
"It is great to have a homecoming event and we are excited about having many of our alums and families of current members cheering us on," Burns said. "It is always great to race in front of the home crowd and we have a fantastic course."