The Bradley men’s and women’s cross country teams split up over the weekend, as one half of each squad went to Indiana for Pre-Nationals, while the other half stayed in Peoria for the Bradley Classic.
In a race that featured six nationally-ranked teams, the women finished 14th overall at Pre-Nationals with 511 points. Junior Kristen Busch led them with a 55th place finish and a time of 21:40.1 in her first 6K race of the season.
“Our one through four runners ran together for the majority of the race, and I think they fed very positively off each other,” head coach Willy Wood said. “I think it kept them calm. Kristen is a phenomenal runner, so she had the expectation that she was going to run well.”
Bradley was one of 11 teams to have three runners finish in the top 75. Busch’s twin sister Caitlin finished 60th, clocking in with a career-best 6K time of 21:45.6, while senior Rosie Hiles came in 71st at 21:47.4.
The men’s race featured eight nationally ranked teams, and Bradley finished in 20th place. The men’s team earned 559 points as the top Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) finisher at Pre-Nationals.
Senior Eric Delvo paced the men, finishing 46th with a time of 25:01.0, his best 8K performance of the season.
“He started off running with a few other guys on the team,” Wood said. “From the 2K mark, he was in 175th and ended up 45th, so he passed 130 guys. He just ran tactically and smart, and he’s just very strong right now.”
Wood was happy with the way that both the women’s and men’s teams ran in Terre Haute, saying that they ran “very well.”
“I thought we were significantly improved from Notre Dame, not only in terms of times we ran and how we fared, but also in terms of the mindset going into the race,” Wood said.”The calmness and confidence levels were up; we just looked markedly different.”
Wood took the top seven runners from each team to Pre-Nationals, while the others stayed to run in the Bradley Classic. Four races were run at the Classic, two for each the men and the women.
The men finished 20th in the red race while the women placed 24th. The women’s team won the white race, led by freshman Natalie Burant, who crossed the line second overall, just 10 seconds behind the race winner.
Including Burant, the Braves placed five runners in the top 13 finishers of the race, four of whom were freshmen.
Though Wood wasn’t present at the meet, he said he thought some of the runners had “phenomenal” races, and it was “an overall good performance.”
The cross country teams will run at the Illinois Open this weekend, their last event before the MVC meet.