|Redbird cross country teams run to success|
|Written by Ashley Schrader, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Monday, 18 October 2010 19:08|
With two weeks until the highly anticipated Missouri Valley Conference Tournament meet, the Illinois State men’s and women’s cross country teams separated for the first time of the season to face competition suitable for Valley preparation.
The men’s team made the short trip to Peoria, Ill., to compete in the Bradley Classic Friday, where the Redbirds took eighth place in the 21-team event.
The women’s squad traveled a little further for the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, Ind., where the ‘Birds nabbed 32nd place in the Blue Division.
ISU men made improvements from past meets and recorded several top-performances equating a team score of 223 points.
“The guys had a nice improvement from our Louisville meet, and I feel this has been our best race of the year,” ISU head coach Jeff Bovee said.
“We feel good with our performance [Friday], but we need to keep improving and get back to work in order to be ready for the Missouri Valley Conference Championships,” he added.
Senior Matt Mroczynski crossed the tape first for ISU in sixth place at Newman Golf Course. The Wisconsin native clocked 24:23 in the 8K race, marking the fourth-straight meet Mroczynski finished first for the Redbirds.
“Matt ran one of the best times of his career today. Matt has great momentum going into the MVC Championships, and he has a chance to compete for an individual win, which is something any senior wants to finish their career with,” Bovee said.
Senior Jon Roberts was the second Redbird to cross the finish. In Roberts’ first race of the season he tallied 32nd place clocking 25:00. Junior Jim Link followed Roberts in 43rd place in 25:16.
“Jon ran a personal-best time, and he surpassed my expectations of where he would be in his first race of the season, he was a big boost for the men’s team,” Bovee said. “Jim keeps getting better each week. He ran an all-time personal-best today.”
Sophomore Blake Brooks finished in 25:40, which was good for 69th place and junior John Navarro (25:56) rounded out ISU’s top-five in 87th place.
Iowa took the crown at the Bradley Classic with 67 points, while MVC foes Southern Illinois took second place with 105 points.
ISU women fared well against an extremely tough field of competition at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet Saturday. While the Redbirds did not do as well as anticipated, several women still reached personal-best times.
“Heading into the meet, we were seeded in 30th place, but we were hoping to place in the top-25,” Bovee said. “Despite not having our best performances, we still had people step up and have good performances.”
Senior Jess Husted was the first Redbird to finish in the Blue Division. She clocked a personal-best time of 21:36.7 in the 6K race for 91st place.
Junior Aisha Praught was the second ‘Bird to finish in the 38-team race with a time of 21:58.7, which was good for 137th place. Senior Olivia Myers finished in 22:12 for 157th place while sophomore Samantha Bluske finished in 22:16.2 for 162nd place. Freshman Kristen Zillmer (22:34.9) finished in 195th.
“We have to work on the middle part of our races, especially as we go into the last half of the season,” Bovee said. “We start well and close well, but we need to work on the middle section of the race. We will work on that in practices leading up to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.”
Florida State won the Blue Division with 115 points and Arizona took second with 128 points.
The men’s and women’s teams will unite against when the Redbirds travel to Urbana, Ill., to compete in a duel meet against Illinois Oct. 22 at 4 p.m.