Cross Country looks to improve

Not many people can run a 5K in under 20 minutes, yet the Bradley men’s and women’s cross country team make it appear easy as they gear up for the 2011-12 season.

The women’s cross country team was voted to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference in the preseason coaches poll, while the men’s squad was picked to finish seventh.

“We are very excited about this year,” said Marc Burns, men’s and women’s cross country coach. “Both of our teams are young and full of talent. This year will be all about development and learning how to race at this level, one week at a time.”

The women’s high ranking is owed in large part to the top returners, sophomore Cassie Lohmeier and junior Emily Gustafson.

Lohmeier owned the third fastest times on the team in the 4K, 5K, and 6K, while Gustafson finished last season strong after missing the first two meets.

“They both look great and are providing some important leadership for the freshman,” Burns said. “We need to stay healthy and be patient but this team has some great potential.”

The men’s team has 12 underclassmen on its roster, but they still look to have a big season. They are led by juniors Jon Richards and Nick Skromme, as well as freshman Marshall Moyer.

“The guys are focused on being a top-five team this year and are operating with a chip on their shoulder from the end of last year,” Burns said. “The future looks very bright for our program. The key will be to stay patient and be consistent with our development. It should be a fun ride.”

Both teams open their season today at the Bradley Open in Detweiller Park. The women’s 3-mile race will start at 5:30 p.m. and the men’s 6K race will start at 6:15 p.m.