The Eastern cross country team sets out to conquer the Bradley “Pink” Classic on Friday Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. at the Newman Golf Course in Peoria.
The third annual Bradley “Pink” Classic will honor those affected by breast cancer.
All of the runners’ bib numbers will be pink, and the athletes will have the option of putting a name on a second bib number to pin to their backs to race in honor of a breast cancer survivor or someone who has been affected by the disease.
The Panthers will compete alongside up to 25 teams.
Head Coach Erin Howarth said that the men’s side of the team is expected to compete well against Nebraska, Illinois, Loyola, and Iowa as well as the two conference teams, SIU-Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri, which are expected to run in the meet.
The Panther women will also compete against conference rival Southeast Missouri for the first time this season.
Athletes to watch for at this meet include junior Tyler Yunk, junior Juan Barajas, junior Greg Rogers, sophomore Maria Baldwin, and junior Ivy Handley.
Both Rogers and Handley ran their best times at the Bradley “Pink” Classic in the 2014 season.
Baldwin had a first place finish in the home opener to start off her season this year.
Yunk and Barajas have been closing gaps between runners within the team’s top five.
The men’s team has placed within the top five in all three meets the Panthers have appeared in this season.
The women have ranked within the top 10 in the three previous meets of the 2015 season.
In order to prepare for the upcoming meet, the team has utilized several strategies for success.
As a team, the Panthers have looked at and studied the course map, read past race evaluations from previous meets at this location and reminded themselves of the difficult areas of the course.
Howarth said in addition to the above mentioned, the team has participated in several workouts and repeats sessions, and these efforts have resulted in increased speed and strength throughout the entire roster.
Consistency is the key to the Panthers’ success in this meet as well as the whole season.
“I want to make a statement to the region that we are consistent,” Howarth said. “We do have an incredible team, and we can and will race competitively with heart and guts.”
Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]