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Smith crushes Champaign, Bradley track and field continues to move forward

Kyra Koontz competes in a hurdles race. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics

A common occurrence during this season for Bradley track and field has been their ability to perform consistently well wherever they go. This time it was junior Will Smith who took home the title in the men’s 800-meter race with a time of 1:53:58 at the Gary Wieneke Memorial Meet at the University of Illinois.

“I feel that I am coming back to my fitness,” Smith said on what he has been doing to prepare for the 800m. “It was a rough August [and] earlier part of the year. I’m focusing on the small parts, getting sleep, proper nutrition along with getting back into overall shape.”  

The Braves had multiple runners place in the top 10 in Champaign. Following in Smith’s footsteps, sophomore Ivan Westcott placed third (1:57:03) followed by the junior duo of Zach Albrecht (1:57:56) and Mason Jones (1:58:33), who finished fourth and fifth respectively. Sophomore Jack Crull also won the 1500-meter race with a time of 3:44:78.

“The biggest strength was Jack Crull’s win in the 1500m,” Braves head coach Darren Gauson said. “Puts us second in the Missouri Valley and places him top 50 in the NCAA west region.” 

Sophomore Eli Rieker finished third in the 100-meter dash, crossing the finish line in 11:08. In the 400-meter race freshman Robert Stan clocked in at 51:38, which netted him a sixth place finish.

The women’s team had two top finishes in the 100-meter dash. Freshman Leah Thames came in second with a time of 12:51. She was accompanied by an eighth place finish by fellow freshman Jada Vaughn at 13:32 and a ninth place finish by junior Kyra Koontz with a time of 13:34.

In the women’s 400-meter race, sophomore Amiyah Davis ran a third place finish in 57:61 followed up by sophomore teammate Andriana Erotocritou at a time of 1:01:49 to place seventh. The women’s team also had a runner place eighth in the 800-meter race with senior Amelia Lesher clocking in at 2:21:19.

“A big weakness was the weather on day two,” Gauson said. “It was really windy and cold Saturday.” 

Gauson believes that every meet is different and the focus shifts from meet to meet. 

“For instance our next meet it’s going to be about school records, where does this person finish relative to other athletes in the Missouri Valley. We also look at NCAA regional qualifying marks as well,” Gauson said. 

Bradley’s currently underway at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. That meet runs through Saturday. Keeping that good momentum going forward, Bradley track and field will definitely be looking to grow the trophy cabinet and continue to improve heading into the late stages of the season. 

“There’s a competitive mindset of wanting to compete but I try to relax and keep a level before I race and focus on just doing the best I can,” Smith said. “Instincts take over at times, when I look up sometimes I’ll see that I’m already done after going hard in the final lap.”

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