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Braves finish season with top-12 performance at Midwest Regionals

Bradley’s Sophia McDonell runs at a race earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

Bradley’s cross-country season ended with a 10th and 12th place finish for the women’s and men’s teams, respectively, at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 12 at the University of Iowa. Schools all over the Midwest competed at the Ashton Cross Country Course with hopes to book a spot at the National Championship in Florida. 

The women’s team finished off the day with a score of 341, behind Nebraska while the men’s team had a score of 336, just behind Kansas State.  

“[I’m] really happy with how both teams competed with what was pretty tricky conditions with it being very windy and with some snow flurries,” head coach Darren Gauson said. 

Braves freshman Nicola Jansen was the first to cross the finish line for the women, earning herself a 16th place finish individually. Jansen ran the 6K course in 21:10.5, 23 seconds ahead of the next-fastest true freshman and breaking the 24-year record of highest-finishing Bradley rookie.  

“I could have not asked for anything better, being [MVC] Freshman of the Year and getting all-regional and MVC honors, earning some that I didn’t even know existed,” Jansen said. “I try to see every meet as just another workout, as I try to manage the stress.” 

As Jansen led the Braves on a cold, snowy Iowa day, sophomore Ashley Maguire came up with a 35th place finish, running a time of 21:28.43. Junior Sophia McDonnell finished with a time of 22:06.5 and sophomore duo Tiana LoStracco and Julia Nielsen ran times of 22:13.50 and 22:29.75, respectively. Rounding out the women’s team were juniors Lily Strauss with a time of 22:53.78, and Amelia Lesher who crossed the line at 23:03.73. 

Senior Alec Danner led the men’s team to a 12th place finish, running the 10K course with a time of 31:25.32. Finishing 39th overall, Danner felt that the season could have ended on a higher note, but understands the circumstances. 

“We’re left feeling really hungry for track season and next year,” Danner said. “This team has faced a lot of adversity this season with illnesses and injuries taking out a lot of our key guys early and mid-way through the season. We still competed as a really solid group with what we had.” 

Also running for Bradley’s men’s team was junior George Watson, who finished with a time of 31:37.48 and placed 51st. Not far behind was senior Matt Aho placing 53rd with a time of 31:39.50. Sophomores Billy Hauenstein and Max Dieterich had times of 32:35.00 and 32:54.37, respectively. Freshman Rodrigo Alvarez Gonzalez rounded out the squad with a final time of 32:55.91. 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Braves. Senior Charlie Parrish dealt with the stomach flu on top of the less than ideal weather and ended up closing his season up with a time of 32:57.13.

Gauson looks forward to next season, as he believes the women’s team will be favorites in the MVC and the reinforcements and recruits for the men’s team will help them out as well, including Maryland’s state champion and an all-state honoree from Illinois. 

“The future looks bright; we’ll just continue to compete at a high level and to compete for championships and a top ten finish in the region is our goal,” Gauson said.

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