McDonald, `Birds Continue Season at Bradley Open
Betsy McDonald looks to improve on her 6th place finish at last week's Illini Open
Betsy McDonald looks to improve on her 6th place finish at last week's Illini Open

Sept. 7, 2006

NORMAL, Ill. - After a sixth-place finish at last week's Illini Open, senior Betsy McDonald leads the Illinois State cross country team as it travels to compete in the Bradley Open, on Friday at Detweiler Park in Peoria, Ill.

Challenging the Redbirds will be Missouri Valley Conference rivals Bradley, Northern Iowa and Indiana State. Head coach Elvis Forde feels that the open, hosted by Bradley, will allow the `Birds to gauge their progress against the conference foes in preparation for the State Farm MVC Championships in October.

"We will see three of our conference rivals this weekend," said Forde. "Although it is early in the season, it's good to go up against that kind of competition to test ourselves and see how good we are. I'm optimistic that we can have a good race. The key is learning how to race and compete with a lot of savvy, if we can do that we will make a lot of progress towards the conference championship in October."

The women's team again will be without the services of Kim Smudde and Natalie Scatena, who have yet to compete due to injuries. However, veteran Suzy Turner, fresh off a eighth place finish at the Illini Open, joins McDonald, freshman Kim Ebbesen and sophomore Kathleen Thompson on the course this weekend.

Forde is optimistic about the return of Smudde and expects freshman Stacey Turilli, Maureen Nelligan and Whitney Beals to pick up their performance for this weekend's event.

"We are still limited by the number of athletes we have available due to the injuries to Kim and Natalie," said Forde. "However, I am still carrying the banner of optimism because Kim is a very integral part of our team based on her performances last year. Betsy continues to run well in practice along with Suzy Turner and Kim Ebbesen. I look to Stacey Turilli, Maureen Nelligan and Whitney Beals to step up in that fifth spot so that we can raise our place in the standings."

On the men's side, Forde feels that the performances from sophomore Mike Richardson, junior Brian Glaza and freshmen Jordan Anderson and Scott Krapf will continue to improve as the team competes in more events. Forde also expects senior Bronco Meeks to improve off last weekend's race and help the Redbirds in the important fifth position.

"Richardson, Anderson, Krapf and Glaza have shown that they can race," said Forde. "I think anyone of those four on any given weekend could be our top finisher. I hope they will be able to remain competitive during the course of the season, translating that competitiveness from the training sessions. I look to Bronco to step up and have a better race. If those guys can continue to run well, then we can expect good things this season."

Women's racing action begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men's race at 6:15 p.m.