The Wichita State cross country team travels to Evansville, Indiana, this weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Bradley ranked first in the polls for their men’s and women’s teams. The Braves’ women’s team earned 99 points and nine first-place votes in the polls —they have the opportunity to be back-to-back conference champions this year.
The Shockers’ women’s team is ranked second in the conference polls going into the tournament this weekend. The women received 87 points in the poll ranking along with one first-place vote. WSU has the most top times in the Missouri Valley Conference 5K course including: Sidney Hirsch (5th), Rebekah Topham (6th), Emilea Finley (8th) and Kayla Deighan (9th).
“Bradley is a strong favorite for the women’s race,” head coach Kirk Hunter said. “It looks like a great, tight competition for conference titles.”
Hunter said that although Bradley is considered a strong favorite, his team will have a great chance for the top spot.
Freshman Rebekah Topham last competed with a slight injury, as reported by Hunter, which kept her out of the front of the pack in pre-national tournaments.
“Topham will have a chance to do well in the conference tournament,” Hunter said.
Wichita State finished third in the polls behind Bradley and Indiana State. Though the Shockers received 65 points, they were only one point behind second-rated Indiana State.
Hunter believes the competition for the men is strong, and that there are four potential teams who could finish first in the conference.
“Bradley is good, and I believe Illinois State easily could have been rated higher than us,” Hunter said.
Bradley is looking to compete for their first conference title for the men’s team in program history.
“We have a strong men’s team,” Hunter said. “It’s nice to have the respect of other coaches in the conference.”
The Shockers raced Bradley in the pre-national event two weeks ago. The Bradley women finished 23rd, the men 26th and the Shockers finished 36th for the women and 37th for the men in pre-nationals.
“Yes, [Bradley] came out on top in the pre-national,” Hunter said. “The conference meet is smaller, and it changes the team dynamics. It makes it more favorable for us on both sides.”
Veterans Brady Johnson and Paul Raymond look to boost the Shockers to a top conference spot. Johnson’s time broke the Shocker’s 8K record at the Chile Pepper Invitational, the third fastest 8K time in the conference this season.
The Shockers will race at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Angel Mounds State Historic Site hosted by the University of Evansville.