The Braves’ track team had a scintillating performance in St. Louis at the Billiken Invite on March 26. This was the team’s first outdoor event since the 2019 MVC Championship in May.
The return to the elements was triumphant, as Bradley runners took first place in 10 different races, including a school-record performance.
Fabia McDonald has been Bradley’s associate track head coach since 2019, working mainly with sprinters. Since her arrival, the Braves have not only been able to recruit competitive short-distance runners but also deliver results.
“Recruiting never stops,” McDonald said. “I recruit in my sleep, when I’m eating, I recruit every part of my day. I’m looking to bring young women and men who want to succeed academically and athletically, and I think I’ve done that.”
Last Friday was McDonald’s first outdoor meet at Bradley and some of her rookie recruits highlighted the day for the Braves in individual and team performances.
McDonald has instilled this mentality of hard work in her runners. She is admittedly hard on her athletes in practice because as they are “puking and contemplating life,” she believes it will push them to perform at a high level consistently.
“My expectation is on top for them,” McDonald said. “We go out and we are going to compete, this is where champions are made, for an event like St. Louis where we go out and surprise ourselves.”
The Braves delivered and did more than surprise. The 4×100 relay was the highlight of the day for the Braves. Sophomore Hannah Ivy and freshmen T’ya Suber, Kyra Koontz and Sierra Bryant won the event with a time of 48.24 – good for a school record. The previous school record of 48.34, which had been standing since 1982, was beaten by just one-tenth of a second by the young group of runners.
Bradley’s women’s team also shined in the 400m race occupying the top four spots of the event. Ivy led all runners crossing the line in 56.95, this was just short of her personal record time of 56.60.
“It was a good opener, and like coach said, it’s expected,” Ivy said. “I was close to my PR and it is just going to go down from here, and we’re aiming for even lower, that’s our mindset every weekend.”
She was followed by freshmen Wilma Nielsen, Julia Nielsen and Reina McMillan in the 400m, with each athlete setting a top 10 time in Bradley history. Wilma Nielsen ranks third with a time of 57.50, Julia Nielsen is sixth with 58.17 and McMillan is eighth with 58.45.
Sophomore Miguel Aygei won two additional titles for the Braves. He finished first in the 400m dash in 51.77 and in the 110m hurdles in 15.94. This was Aygei’s first time competing in the 400m and only the third time he ran it overall.
“That’s just a start, that’s not the end,” Aygei said. “I expect myself to break the [50-second mark in the 400m] by the end of the season and to break the 14 mark in the 110m hurdles as well.”
Suber and Koontz finished on the top spot of the 200m race and 100m hurdles in addition to their success in the relay. Suber finished with a time of 25.10, the second-best mark in school history. Koontz completed the hurdles in 15.52, the eighth-best time in Bradley history.
Sophomore Amelia Lesher also won the 800m race for Bradley’s women with a time of 2:18.85, and senior Aisling Joyce finished third in 2:21.69.
Freshmen Sophia McDonnell and Tyler Schwartz finished on the podium of the 1,500m run with times of 4:41.73 and 4:48.67.
Freshman Max Dieterich led the Braves in the 1,500m run in 3:51.45 as Bradley occupied eight of the top 10 places. Sophomores Matt Aho and Charlie Parrish finished third and fourth in 3:56.52 and 3:56.89, respectively. Senior Scott Seymour was fifth with a time of 3:57.86.
Bradley runners will be in action today in Normal at the Redbird Invite at Illinois State University.