The Bradley cross country team kicked off its 2019 campaign at the Western Illinois Invitational by winning the men’s race with a perfect score and the women taking second overall.
Senior Kerry Gschwendtner brought the men’s 6-kilometer victory home in 19 minutes 28.7 seconds. He was followed, in succession, by four teammates, capping off the perfect score of 15.
Head coach Darren Gauson was pleased with the day as a whole.
“You have to give it up to Kerry, he took home the win and ran at the front of the race,” Gauson said. “[Sophomore] Joey Simon [finishing fourth overall] also impressed me. He’s had a really good summer and I think that race was proof that he’s improved.”
As for the women, sophomore Emma Planck was the Braves’ highest place finisher in seventh, covering the 4-kilometer course in 14:10.5.
This is a critical year both the men’s and women’s teams, coming off of a 2018 campaign that included a trip the NCAA Championship for the men. The younger athletes need to step up their contributions.
In a year where the Braves transition away from the established leadership of graduates Michael Ward, Haran Dunderdale, Will Anderson and Niamh Markham, Gauson has high hopes for this years squad.
“There’s a lot of guys I think can step up … Jack Becker, Drew Wenger and Matt Richtman all had really good summers,” Gauson said. “They have gone from chasing the top group to being right there with them. We haven’t raced them yet, but we will at Detwiller [Sept. 20] and I’m really excited to watch them compete.”
The Braves also welcomed a strong recruiting class on both the men’s and women’s side. Among them, were two female freshmen: Canada National U20 800-meter champion Tiana LoStracco and distance runner Sophia McDonell.
Gauson is excited to see the progress and improvement on the women’s team.
“McDonell has slotted in really well and is doing workouts with [sophomore] Tyler [Schwartz] and [senior] Gabby [Juarez],” Gauson said. “There are several freshmen on both sides that I’m excited to see grow.”
Bradley will not race again until they host the Bradley Intercollegiate on Sept. 20 at Detweiller Park. It is the first of two home cross country meets in the 2019 season, before the Bradley Pink Classic on Oct. 18.