Bradley’s track teams are determined heading into next weekend’s indoor conference championship meet. With many runners setting personal records at the Grand Valley State Big Meet last weekend, head coach Darren Gauson is optimistic that his Braves can place high in the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championship.
With MVC member schools such as Loyola and Indiana State also competing at the Big Meet, the fifth-year coach believes a sneak peek of future competition gave runners confidence and a chance to see where they may place.
No one exemplified Gauson’s statement more than senior Luke Hoffert, who ran the 5000-meter in 14:29.85 to win his respective heat. The time solidified his place at seventh in school history. Freshman Matthew Richtman joined Hoffert by writing his name into the record book with his time of 14:36.53 good for eighth in program history.
Twin brother senior Jake Hoffert paced Bradley in the 3000-meter run with a time of 8:25.44 and sophomore Jack Franklin set a personal record himself of 8:26.63. Both respective times place Hoffert and Franklin in the top-10 for 3000-meter distance inside. The Big Meet continued its kindness to the Braves as senior Ben Potrykus finished with a 1:54.52 in the 800-meter run.
Bradley’s most monumental factor in ensuring a repeat conference title is ensuring the latter Hoffert is running to the best of his ability. The four-time all-conference distance runner sustained an injury earlier in the academic year. However, Gauson is confident that Hoffert can dominate the oval once again.
“Statistically, Hoffert is the best runner in the conference,” Gauson said.
On the women’s side, senior Gabby Juarez, junior Ally Lampert and freshman Lily Strauss set personal records with in the 5000-meter run, which the Braves can place well in come the conference championship Feb. 29 and March 1. Juarez, Lampert, redshirt-freshman Grace Breitbach and senior Sam Lechowitz all recorded top-10 2020 MVC times at the GVSU meet.
Gauson’s optimism with the men carries over to the women, as he is hoping that junior McKenzie Altmayer can bring home a conference championship in the 3000-meter race. Sophomore Hannah Ivy will also be setting her sights on redeeming herself after a fall cost her a high finish in the 400-meter race in Michigan. There are four female athletes redshirting the indoor season.
“It’s kind of a bigger picture of us being really good not only this season but even better in one year, two years from now,” Gauson said. “We should be really good because we have a big recruiting class coming in.”
With both teams, the coaching staff wants to align the success of younger and older runners. In two to three years, Gauson believes Bradley can become a powerhouse that will reload every year instead of restarting.
Bradley can certainly look forward to successes as the entirety of the program’s focus is on the conference championship according to Gauson. The Braves have gotten a good dose of strong competition running at Eastern Illinois, Indiana State, Iowa, Notre Dame and GVSU.
“[We earned] a lot of confidence two weeks before the conference meet and have a lot of people headed in the right direction,” Gauson said.
The 2020 indoor championship will take place Feb. 29 and March 1 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.