Bradley stands in cross country’s way of MVC Championship


Courtesy Photo

Senior Ugis Jocis finished 12th at last season’s MVC championships with a time of 24:32.98 in the 8K race

Wichita State cross country heads into the MVC Championship meet predicted to finish second as a team, with Bradley predicted to finish first according to the conference’s pre-championship coaches poll released on Tuesday.

The Bradley men are recently coming off an eighth place team finish at the Pre-Nationals Meet in Terre Haute, Indiana, with the WSU men finishing 30th as a team. Bradley’s women come into the MVC championships with three first place finishes, most recently winning the Illini Open at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, last Friday.

“The men have the tougher battle, because Bradley has been so good throughout the year. They’re the returning champions and don’t lose anyone,” head coach Kirk Hunter said. “The men will have to have a really strong meet throughout all seven or eight guys that are running and we’re basically just going to have to step up our game all the way through.”

Senior Ugis Jocis finished 12th at last season’s MVC championships with a time of 24:32.98 in the 8K race. Earning his way to MVC Honorable Mention, Jocis placed in the top 50 at the Pre-Nationals meet with a time of 24:51.3 to place 48th.

Junior Pedro Montoya finished Pre-Nationals with a time of 25:27.8 to earn 130th out of 268 runners while junior Kyle Larkin finished 180th with a time of 25:49.4. Junior Nathan Wickoren was 37th with a time of 24:34:36 in the Chile Pepper Classic to help the Shockers to a second place finish.

Jocis said that packing up together with Bradley runners during the race and trying to top them in the final 1K will be the key to winning the MVC championship.

“(The key) is packing up with Bradley guys and trying to stay in the group together,” Jocis said. “We have to try to beat them in the last k. That’s all we can do and that is the most important thing for us guys.”

Senior Sidney Hirsch and sophomore Rebekah Topham finished in the top 10 of last year’s MVC championship in the women’s 5k race. Hirsch finished seventh with a time of 17:18.79 while Topham finished right behind with an eighth place finish with a time of 17:18.87.

One runner that has lifted the Shockers this season is redshirt senior Emilea Finley. After placing 27th in last year’s conference championships with a time of 17:56.48, Finley’s work over the summer helped her obtain an improved time of 17:02.79 in the 5K at the Chile Pepper Invitational.

Finley’s finish allowed the Shocker women to finish in fourth as a team during that meet and her time and her time of 21:50.4 in the 6K helped the Shocker women to a seventh place finish out of 41 teams in the Pre Nationals meet.

“One person can change the whole outcome of the entire meet,” Hunter said. “She’s really elevated herself to a new level and she deserves some credit for that. I hope she has a meet like she has been running all season.”

Both WSU team’s main focus is more on the team accomplishments, according to Hirsch and Jocis. The five seniors on both rosters have not won an MVC title as a team in their careers, making Saturday the final opportunity for the WSU seniors to accomplish that goal.

“I want to win (the championship) really bad,” Hirsch said. “I don’t even care individually how I do, of course I want to do great, but my main goal is to win as a team. That’s all I want.”