After running against a nationally-competitive field at Notre Dame on Oct. 4, the Bradley cross country men and women will race again today at 1 p.m..
In South Bend, the men finished 19th of 22 led by redshirt-senior Jake Hoffert in 28th place with a 5-mile PR of 23 minutes and 59.46 seconds. The women finished 24th of 24 with sophomore Ayah Aldadah clocking the 10th best Bradley 5-kilometer time, a PR, of 17:32.96.
The men will attend the Nuttycombe Invitational at the University of Wisconsin and the top seven runners of Hoffert, his twin brother redshirt-senior Luke Hoffert, redshirt-senior Kerry Gschwendtner, senior Ben Potrykus, redshirt-sophomore Jack Franklin, and redshirt-freshmen Drew Wenger and Matt Richtman will travel with assistant coach Danny Stults. The meet only invites the nation’s top-40 teams compete. Bradley is the only Missouri Valley Conference team attending.
“To be honest, [the top men] know what they are doing,” head coach Darren Gauson said.
Gauson will stay in Peoria to coach the varsity women and men’s “B” team at Newman Golf Course for the Bradley Pink Classic. He hopes both the men and women can win their respective races in Peoria.
“Everyone else will [race at Newman],” Gauson said. “I think Drake’s ‘A’, Loyola’s ‘A’ and Illinois State’s ‘A’ [men’s] teams will be [in Peoria]. So if our guys can compete with our conference here that would give us a good shot in the arm. The women will be tighter in conference between us and Loyola and the men should be fine [at the conference meet Nov. 2 at Valparaiso].”
Today’s goal for Gauson and his athletes is victory.
“I want the women to win and [the field] is not as strong as last year. They are killing it in practice,” Gauson said.
Gauson said senior Gabby Juarez is getting healthy from a minor knee injury, senior Abby Jokisch has been running well in practice and he has confidence junior McKenzie Altmayer, Aldadah and sophomore Tyler Schwartz all have a chance to finish first overall.
Historically, the cross country program has started slow at early season meets the last few seasons and Gauson believes that the team will peak once again at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet Nov. 15 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
”We are poised to have a good one,” Gauson said.