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Track take on Raleigh Relays and EIU Big Blue Classic

The Bradley track teams competed this past weekend in the Raleigh Relays and Eastern Illinois’ Big Blue Classic. Senior Michael Ward and sophomore Alec Hartman highlighted the men’s team while sophomore McKenzie Altmayer led the women.

Both the men and women’s teams split up its runners to compete at NC State and EIU. The Big Blue Classic was cut short due to poor weather conditions. Head coach Darren Gauson coached the team in Raleigh and he said assistant coach Alyssa Johnson was at the Big Blue Classic.

“[Johnson] said it was hard to even see where the line was because the rain was so heavy,” Gauson said. “It was tough for the group that was there. It’s the Midwest and that’s just what you’re going to get that time of year.”

Before the cancellation, six Bradley women placed in the top-10 in the 5,000-meter run on Friday. Freshman Emma Ehrhardt finished first in 17 minutes and 44.60 seconds, followed by sophomore Kristin Oakley in second place at 17:45.78.

Junior Morgan Lain and sophomore Arsinoe Del Real notably finished with personal records in the 5,000 in seventh and 10th place at 18:21.76 and 18:41.73, respectively.

Sophomore runners Michael Hahndorf and sophomore Jon May led the men in the 5,000 meter at EIU. Hahndorf placed fourth in 14:52.25, beating his PR by more than 11 seconds. May finished ninth in 15:25.86, breaking his best career time as well.

On Saturday at EIU, the men earned two top-10 placings in the 1,500-meter run as well. Freshman Joey Simon and junior Nick Porter finished in fourth and seventh place, respectively, in 4:10.61 and 4:13.28.

Gauson said he was impressed with the results the men and women received before the cancellation.

“[The Big Blue Classic] was really good,” Gauson said. “On Friday, the weather was a little bit better – still windy and really, really wet – but a good one-two [placings from Ehrhardt and Oakley]. We’re probably in the best spot we’ve ever been at this point of the season.”

At NC State, Michael Ward set the program’s record in the 10,000 meter, running a time of 29:16.20 to finish 18th out of 42 total runners. He beat the previous record by almost 10 seconds, set by alumnus Patrick Campbell in 2017.

Ward noted how he was nervous competing in the 10,000 meter for the first time officially, but said how he pushed through the race mentally.

“Going into it, I knew it was going to be more of a mental thing,” Ward said. “I told myself, ‘Try not to look at the lap counter,’ and I looked up and saw 17 laps to go and I just died a little bit inside. The next time I looked up, I think it was eight laps to go, and I thought we’re nearly there.”

Junior Jake Hoffert also beat Campbell’s record with a time of 29:24.74, giving him the second-best time in program history and a 22nd place finish. Ward said he was happy to see Hoffert beat the record even though they separated.

“[Jake’s run] was awesome,” Ward said. “I wasn’t surprised at all. From performances indoors, I was totally expecting it. We were hoping to work together but the way it kind of worked out in the start, with 42 people on the start line, it was kind of manic the way the race played out.”

In a later 10,000-meter run heat, junior Luke Hoffert finished in eighth of 42 in 29:55.88 and freshman Ben Wagoner placed in 27th in 30:31.75.

Senior Haran Dunderdale placed in second of 58 runners in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 8:50.95. He notably missed the school record by 0.55 seconds and his PR by 0.05 seconds.

Junior Ben Potrykus ran a time of 3:51.19 in the 1,500-meter run, while senior Will Anderson and redshirt-freshman Alec Danner finished at 14:36.07 and 14:51.56 in the 5,000 meter, respectively.

McKenzie Altmayer spearheaded the women after completing the second-fastest time in Bradley history in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She finished in 17th out of 50 at 10:38.52 and missed the record by only 1.59 seconds.

Gauson praised Altmayer for setting a PR and finishing so close to the school record.

“McKenzie was huge

[for Bradley]

,” Gauson said. “She’s ranked in an NCAA qualifying position currently, but she’ll probably need to run a little bit quicker in the coming month.”

Junior Gabby Juarez completed the program’s ninth-best time in the 10,000 meter in 36:22.60 in her first attempt for Bradley. Junior Abby Jockisch finished with the 11th-best time in program history with a PR time of 36:33.24.

On Saturday in North Carolina, Alec Hartman placed second of eight runners in the invitational heat at 1:49.88. He ran the program’s second-fastest time just missing his own collegiate PR set at the 2018 NCAA West Preliminary.

Gauson noted how difficult it was to manage two meets happening at the same time in different areas but was proud of the way the team competed.

“It’s hard actually

[having two meets at the same time]

, to be honest,” Gauson said. “It’s one of those things that is a lot more difficult in track. You can’t be everywhere, so it’s a little frustrating because you can’t see everyone compete. You rely on some individual meetings and great assistant coaches.”

Both teams return to action today at Indiana State’s Gibson Invitational.

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