PEORIA, Ill. -- The Bradley men’s and women’s cross country teams both turned in historic performances at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships two weeks ago and look to do the same Friday afternoon at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Ames, Iowa.
The women’s team finished second at the Valley Championship in Des Moines, Iowa, back on Nov. 2, for the team’s best finish at the league championship since 2002. The men’s squad, which placed 17th in the region last year for the team’s best showing since 2007, had its best finish at the 2013 MVC Championship in over two decades (1989) with a fourth-place finish.
Friday’s action is slated to begin at noon with the men’s 10K, with the women’s 6K scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. at the Iowa State Cross Country Course. The top two teams and top four individuals not on those squads receive an automatic spot in the NCAA Cross Country Championship, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.
On the women’s side, junior Sarah McMahon (Colfax, Wis./Colfax) will be vying for all-region honors for the second straight year after a second-place finish at the Valley Championship. The second three-time all-conference cross country runner in school history, McMahon set the Bradley 6K record earlier this season at the Bradley Classic (20:54) and is coming off a career-best 5K time of 17:28.5 at the MVC Championship earlier this month. McMahon was 22nd at the NCAA Regional last year for the best individual finish for the Braves since 2002.
Sophomore Kristen Busch (Waterloo, Ill./Freeburg) earned all-conference honors after a sixth-place finish at the Valley meet and owns the second-best 5K and 6K times in school history. Junior Emily Delvo (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin) is also expected to be near the front of the BU pack following her seventh-place finish and all-conference honors at the league championship, while MVC Freshman of the Year Casey Kramer (Yorkville, Ill./Yorkville) will also help pace the Braves.
“Our women’s team is looking forward to running up to their potential this weekend,” said Bradley head coach Marc Burns. “We have been ranked in the top six in the region most of the year and they really want to run a smart, solid race to show that we belong up in the top five in the region. McMahon has a good shot to make it to national championships and knows she needs to be in the top-ten overall to have a chance at being in the top four individuals. Both Kristen (Busch) and Emily (Delvo) feel like they can earn all-region honors with a good, strong performance. This team is not satisfied with getting second at the Valley meet two weeks ago and wants to bounce back with a big team race on Friday.”
Junior Eric Delvo (Springfield, Ill./Sacred Heart Griffin) posted the fastest 8K by a Bradley individual since 1983 at the MVC Championship to lead the men’s team and was the team’s top finisher for the Braves at last season’s NCAA Regional. He took home all-conference honors after a seventh-place finish in Des Moines, Iowa, two weeks ago for the best individual finish for a BU runner since 1987.
Fellow junior Chase Coffey (Hanna City, Ill./Farmington) was 10th at the MVC Championship to earn all-league honors and will help lead a Bradley contingent which includes MVC Freshman of the Year Patrick Campbell (Wauwatosa, Wis./Wauwatosa) and sophomore Marshall Moyer (Burlington, Iowa/Burlington).
“The men’s team is excited to put together a complete race on Friday and find its way into the top 15 teams,” stated Burns. “We have been ranked in the top 15 most of the year and now it is time to earn that ranking. Chase and Eric have a good game plan set out to give them a chance to be all region. This is our first 10k of the year and they know it is important to be patient early in the race. The rest of the crew is pretty inexperienced at this meet and for us to achieve our team goal it will be key for them to work their way up into the top 80 with 2k to go. Over the last 2k it will be all about toughness and desire. If they answer the bell we could finish higher than our goal.”