The Bradley mens and womens cross country teams dominated in the Bradley Intercollegiate last Friday. In addition to both squads claiming team titles, the Braves also had the top individual runners. The Intercollegiate featured regional teams, many of which compete at the Division II and Division III level. The womens race distance was three miles while the men ran eight kilometers.
The womens team was led by senior Natalie Burant who won the race in a time of 16:58. Burant ran with her team for the first two miles until Eastern Illinois Maria Baldwin attacked.
I remember looking at my teammates and thinking, one of us has got to win this, Burant said. At the end, I just went for it.
Burants title was the first of her collegiate career, something she said she has wanted since her freshman year.
Its been a long time coming, Burant said with a smile. I have had a lot of little injuries that have held me back.
The rest of the Braves were not far behind, with seven of the top-10 runners being Braves. Burant noted how well the team ran together.
We are always talking to each other and pushing each other, Burant said.
Head coach Darren Gauson said he felt similarly to his senior runner.
Their spread was really good, Gauson said. That is how you win conference.
The men also finished with two titles as sophomore Jake Hoffert won the race to help win the team crown. Hoffert finished with a time of 24:51.1, edging out senior Taylor Floyd Mews by less than a tenth of a second as they finished with the exact same time.
The Braves had five runners finish in the top 10 as well as three redshirted runners finish in the top 10. The redshirts were allowed to run, but did not count towards the teams points.
Gauson said he was pleased with the mens performance but felt as though there was a lot of room for improvement.
I think, with the longer distance for the guys, they struggled with the heat, Gauson said. We had a lot of tired legs from our high level of training.
Hoffert and Burant were both named MVC Athlete of the Week for their accomplishments at the Intercollegiate.
The Braves have the weekend off from racing, which will instead be filled with heavy training. Their next meet will be the Sam Bell Invitational on Sept. 30 in Bloomington, Ind.