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Track shines in big weekend

Last weekend, the men and women’s track teams competed separately twice two indoor meets in school history at Iowa State University and Grand Valley State University. The team posted a total of 11 top-10 times over the weekend.

At Iowa State, senior Michael Ward broke his own school record in the 3000-meter run with a time of 7 minutes and 57.22 seconds. He was less than a second ahead of his previous Bradley record and still owns the second fastest time in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Senior Niamh Markham ran the second fastest mile in school history at 4:49:91. The time was also the third fastest in the MVC this season and her new personal best by over 19 seconds. Markham credits this jump to stronger, more consistent training.

“I have never had such a strong base leading up to indoor or track season,” Markham said. “In past years I have been hurt and never really had that consistency.”

Last indoor season, Markham ran the 800-meter and was a member of the Braves’ 4×400 team. This season, with little 800-meter specific training, she ran a personal best at the distance by under one second.

Also at Iowa State, junior Jake Hoffert paced Bradley in the 5000-meter run with a career best showing of 14:13.49. His time is the fastest in the MVC this season by six seconds.

“The pacing of the race was not perfect,” Hoffert said. “I feel like I am in 14:05, 14:03 [shape] maybe around 14:00, but I would need another chance to see what I can do.”

At Grand Valley State, freshman Tyler Schwartz ran the 3000-meters in 9:48.93, it was the fifth fastest time in Bradley history and fastest by a Brave in three years. Junior transfer Simon Paige and freshman Joey Simon both clocked top-10 times in the 800-meter, running 1:52.46 and 1:54.42 respectively.

Head coach Darren Gauson was very pleased with how Markham, Hoffert and the rest of the Braves performed.

“I am feeling pretty confident going into conference,” Gauson said. “I think the men [as a team] have a very good chance of finishing in the top five and the women are in a position to put up a lot more points since I have been here.”

Up next, the Braves compete in the MVC Indoor Championships coming up on Feb. 23 and 24.

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