The Bradley track team keeps building. Coming off a meet at Big-Ten member school Iowa, the team clocked six personal record times with three top 10 times in school history at the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame last weekend.
Senior Jake Hoffert made his season debut, coming back from a foot injury he sustained during the cross country season. He posted a 4:12.62 in the mile run, beating his personal record by four seconds and posted the 10th-best time in Bradley’s history.
Sophomore Alec Danner also highlighted the men’s side with a time of 8:22.60 in the 3,000-meter race, lowering his PR by five seconds and also posted the 10th best time in school history in the event.
Freshman Matthew Richtman (8:26.96), senior Luke Hoffert (8:28.37) and sophomore Jack Franklin (8:32.70) also clocked PRs in the 3,000-meter on Saturday. The Braves now hold three of the top nine times in the Missouri Valley Conference in the 3,000-meter, with Danner leading the line the third spot.
On the women’s side, junior McKenzie Altmayer ran a 9:46.15 in the 3,000-meter run to place 13th at Notre Dame. This was one for the record books, as the time beat her PR by five seconds. The time is the fifth best in Bradley history and was the fastest 3,000-meter by a Brave in four years. She now has the second best indoor time in the Valley.
Seniors Gabby Juarez and Abby Jockisch ran the 3,000-meter clocking times of 9:55.88 and 10:12.15, respectively. Juarez missed her PR by two seconds, but now holds the sixth-best time in the MVC this spring.
With limited resources compared to larger schools, Bradley has to find ways to stay competitive against Power Five programs and within the MVC as well.
The Braves have relied on the development of some of its freshman and sophomore runners and those who are redshirting for various reasons.
Assistant coaches Fabia McDonald and Daniel Stults play a huge role in the recruitment process and in the development of those recruits; Stults with the long-distance runners and McDonald with the sprinters. Head coach Darren Gauson was quick to mention the work done behind the scenes with redshirted athletes and the youth as a whole.
Two of the most talented redshirt athletes, according to Gauson, are freshmen Sophia McDonnell and Tiana Lostracco. McDonnell will be representing the U.S.A. in the Pan American Cross Country Cup in Canada, while Lostracco will likely represent Canada in the World U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya in July.
The sprinters’ side of the team has the most work in progress due to the youth of the athletes. According to Gauson, only one sprinter will be graduating this year, meaning that McDonald has a lot of work on the development of underclassmen.
Athletes that have been at Bradley for longer also provide some of the leadership younger athletes need to be successful along with the coaches.
“Jake and Luke [Hoffert] were here before we won a conference championship, so they have been here during our unsuccessful days and rise to be 24th in the nation,” Gauson said. “They want to make sure freshmen and sophomores who are redshirting continue that level of effort and excellence.”
Development, recruiting and leadership will be the crucial factors for the Braves’ long term success and continuous excellence at the conference stage. In the short term, the Braves will be in Allendale, Michigan for the GVSU Meet today.