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Nielsen makes history to highlight strong weekend for Bradley track and field

Sophomore Wilma Nielsen. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

Bradley track and field ran well at the IU Relays last week but redshirt sophomore Wilma Nielsen ran even better, nearly setting an all-time NCAA record last weekend.

The sophomore went solo out to Columbia University in New York on an invitation to compete against some of the best collegiate and professional runners in the country. It’s safe to say that she didn’t disappoint.

Participating in the women’s 1000 meters and crossing the line with a time of 2:38.95, Nielsen shattered the school record and set the second best time in the history of the NCAA. Her time was just 37 hundredths of a second behind the collegiate record and 84 hundredths of a second short of Sweden’s national record.

Nielsen finished third in the race, but neither finisher in front of her was racing for a collegiate school.

Head coach Darren Gauson, wasn’t surprised that Nielsen was named the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Female Athlete of the Week for the second consecutive week.

“[Nielsen] is one of the best athletes in the country right now, and we have her here at Bradley, which is incredible,” Gauson said. “Any time she runs or competes, we gotta feel like she could win MVC Athlete of the Week.”

As Nielsen broke school records in the Big Apple, a small group of athletes were selected to go to Bloomington, Ind., and compete at the IU Relays.

“Week by week we are getting better, leading in a lot of events. Kind of setting the tone.” Gauson said.

Freshman Leah Thames placed 10th in the women’s 200 meter dash with a time of 25.57. Sophomore Amiyah Davis finished sixth in the women 400 meter dash with a final time of 58.07. Juniors Julia Nielsen won the women’s 800 meter run at 1:01.993, while her teammate Tiana LoStracco placed second at 1:02.228.

Sophomore Nicola Jansen placed fifth in the women’s 3000 meters with a time of 8:51.235. In that same race, junior Sophia McDonnell placed eighth and ran it in 8:55.922.

In the men’s 3000m run, senior George Watson took eighth place with a time of 7:34.229. His teammate, senior Charlie Parrish also participated in this race, finishing 13th with a time of 7:43.261.

“George [Watson] put himself up to number one in the Missouri Valley Conference, we had Nicola [Jansen] number one in the Valley after her performance,” Gauson said. “Charlie had a PR that puts him in the top four in the MVC as well.”

Throughout all the success that this team has accumulated, Gauson reminds the team that there are 10 conference championships on the mantle, and he hasn’t run out of space for more.

With this expectation of winning, the bar is set to “be the best athletes in the MVC” – according to Gauson – but he believes that the level of competition they are showing proves they can certainly achieve it.

The head coach isn’t just looking one week at a time; however, he has his eyes set on the end of the month: the MVC Championship.

“In some of the areas and events, Bradley is one, two, and three,” Gauson said. “I think we’re just pushing each other to new heights and new levels, making them excited by it. They want to improve and get to the national level, the level that Wilma [Nielsen] is at.”

The team races this weekend in South Bend, Ind., at the Meyo Invitational hosted by Notre Dame.

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