The Bradley cross country teams competed in the NCAA Midwest Regional meet last Friday in Ames, Iowa. Both the men’s and women’s teams finished in sixth place, and the men also had two individual runners receive bids to the NCAA National Championship.
Senior Taylor FloydMews paced the men’s team, taking sixth in the 10-kilometer race. The result was the best ever by a Brave in the regional meet.
FloydMews said he was pleased with his bounce back performance, as he was sick and not 100 percent at the conference championship.
“I didn’t get to run my best at conference,” FloydMews said. “I just wanted to come back for redemption and push myself.”
At first glance, FloydMews’s time of 29:17 might seem astonishing considering it topped the previous best time in Bradley history by over a minute. However, many runners and coaches felt that the course was not at the correct length, and questioned if it was full distance.
“To be honest, I think the organizers messed the course up, because the times were totally off,” head coach Darren Gauson said.
According to Gauson, the shortened length of the course hurt his team in particular because the Braves were making a final push to catch the University of Minnesota, who finished one spot ahead of Bradley.
“We were coming on like a steam train,” Gauson said.
FloydMews’s finish put him among the top-four runners who were not on the top-two teams, giving him an automatic bid to the national meet.
FloydMews said he is thrilled to close out his collegiate career on the national stage.
“I have never been there before, so I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I will just go out there and try my best,” FloydMews said. “It is pretty cool to end on that note, so I am pretty excited.”
FloydMews was followed closely by sophomore Jake Hoffert, who finished in ninth – exactly where he placed last year. Hoffert had to wait until Saturday to find out he received an at-large bid to join his teammate at the national meet.
Gauson said he liked the way his team competed and was happy with them taking sixth out of the 28-team field.
“I thought [the men] were really good today,” Gauson said. “I am real proud of those guys, sixth is really good.”
The women matched the men’s result with a sixth-place finish of their own, a nine spot improvement from last season.
Sophomore McKenzie Altmayer led the women’s squad with a time of 21:03 in the six-kilometer race, slotting her in 34th. Seniors Hannah Witczak and Natalie Burant finished in 39th and 43rd place, respectively.
According to Gauson, getting off to a slow start plagued the women’s team, who spent the entire race making up ground.
“They didn’t get out very well in the first 800 meters, and they were buried,” Gauson said. “They did well to move through the pack though.”
Gauson said he liked the way both the men and women battled despite the 25-degree temperature and 15 mph wind and is looking forward to the national meet.
FloydMews and Hoffert will take the course in the NCAA National Championship tomorrow in Louisville, to close out the 2017 season.