While these times are indeed extremely challenging, we continue to stay optimistic and positive for our student-athletes who look to us for guidance and leadership. In a much broader sense, however, my hope is that everyone is safe and healthy.
Current events surrounding the spread of COVID-19 have given us an opportunity to reflect on this abbreviated 2019-20 sports year. As I am sure you are aware, our Spring sports programs competed in only a handful of events and our Men's and Women's Basketball teams were unable to complete their terrific seasons.
While the abrupt end to the 2019-20 season is disappointing, I remain thankful to everyone who provides the opportunities for our student-athletes to succeed at the highest levels in competition, in the classroom and in the community. The competition year may have been cut short, but it was historically successful for so many of our student-athletes and teams. To everyone who has contributed to the success of Bradley Athletics – student-athletes, coaches, support staff, Bradley University leadership and faculty, donors and fans – I say, “Thank You!”
As we adjust to the start of an unusual spring and prepare for what I know will be a great 2020-21 season, I would like to share the many tremendous accomplishments the Braves enjoyed in 2019-20:
Bradley Men's Basketball finished its season as back-to-back MVC Tournament champion, becoming the ninth team to successfully defend its title in league history, while earning consecutive bids to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1954 and 1955. Senior guard Darrell Brown was selected the Most Outstanding Player at Arch Madness by averaging 21.7 points and 7 assists during the tournament. Junior forward Elijah Childs also earned All-Tournament honors by averaging 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks for the weekend.
Completing the regular season at 22-7 overall and 13-5 in The Valley, Bradley Women’s Basketball set program records for total wins and conference wins in a season. The Braves also had earned the No. 3 seed for the State Farm MVC Women’s Basketball Championship, its best-ever seed for the conference tournament. Individually, the Braves also landed three student-athletes on All-MVC First Team in senior center Chelsea Brackmann, junior guard Gabi Haack and sophomore guard Lasha Petree. Brackmann and Petree also were named to the Valley All-Defense Team and Mahri Petree was selected to the MVC All-First Year Team.
Men’s & Women’s Cross Country
Bradley Men’s Cross Country claimed its fifth-straight MVC Championship. Senior Jake Hoffert also became the first runner in school history to claim two individual MVC Cross Country crowns, as well as the first Brave in program history to collect all-conference honors in all four of his seasons on campus. In addition, the Women’s Cross Country team finished among the top two at the MVC Championship for the seventh consecutive year.
In October, the Braves were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Academic Team for the 15th consecutive year. In addition, Bradley Softball had a school record 11 individuals earn Division I All-American Scholar-Athlete honors. The Braves opened the 2020 season with a 3-2 win against #20 Arkansas and were set to carry a 14-9 record into their conference opener.
Senior outfielder Dan Bolt was named to the 13-player Missouri Valley Conference baseball preseason all-league team. Bolt was named the MVC Player of the Week for each of the final two weeks of the Bradley season and was selected for the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Players of the Week for the second time in his career March 2. At the time the 2020 college baseball season was halted, Bolt ranked fourth nationally with 0.70 home runs per game and sixth nationally with a .881 slugging percentage. In addition to Bolt’s weekly awards, a trio of Braves were named to national award watch lists: junior pitcher Theron Denlinger for the NCBWA Stopper-of-the-Year Award, junior catcher Keaton Rice for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher-of-the-Year Award and senior SS Luke Shadid was spotlighted in the announcement of the first national watch list for the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award.
Bradley entered the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference Women's Tennis Individual Championships with three titles in the program's history. Thanks to sophomores Bozana Lojpur (No. 2 Singles) and Nikki Perlwitz (No. 5 Singles, the Braves now boast five Valley individual flight titles. Junior Sandra Maletin had improved to 17-2 overall in singles action in 2019-20, including 10-0 at No. 1 Singles during the spring dual match season, leading the Braves to a 7-5 record.
After leading Bradley Volleyball to consecutive top-four Missouri Valley Conference finishes for the first time since 2001 and 2002, fourth-year head coach Carol Price-Torok was featured as one of VolleyballMag.com's 40 Under 40 Coaching Hotshots. In addition, sophomore Hannah Thompson was noted as the only student-athlete in the nation with more than 350 kills and 500 digs and she tied the Bradley season record with 24 double-doubles during the 2019 season.
For the first time since 2013, Bradley Soccer landed three student-athletes on the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region team, and Head Coach Jim DeRose earned his 250th career win. The Braves posted an 8-7-4 overall record and finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season standings before advancing to the semifinals of the MVC Men’s Soccer Championship at Loyola Chicago.
First-year head coach, Halley Morell, was named the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Teaching and Club Professional Midwest Section Coach of the Year. Playing through injury, senior Taylor Ledwein was named the final MVC Women’s Golfer of the Week for the year after posting her third top-10 finish among her four tournaments. Ledwein’s 72.82 season stroke average following her fifth-place showing at the River Landing Classic is better than the MVC season record.
The youngest team in The Valley, our men’s golf team continued to display its growing potential with the mid-season addition of first-year student Brady Kreiter. Kreiter was a two-time IHSA state qualifier, finishing third and claiming all-state honors during his senior year at Brimfield High School. Now fully recovered from the ACL injury that ended his four-year Bradley Soccer career in 2018, senior Alex Ciaramitaro led the youthful golf squad through the 2019-20 season.
All of this was accomplished while our student-athletes continue to excel academically and represent our University in a first-class manner in our community. I am sure you are as proud of these amazing accomplishments as I am, and I hope you take a special sense of pride knowing that your contributions make all of this possible. I look forward to cheering on our Braves with you when competition resumes, and continuing together to achieve new heights for Bradley Athletics!
Go Braves! #ForwardTogether
–Sent to the Bradley community on 03/24/2020
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