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McMahon concludes cross country career for Bradley Braves

PEORIA, IL — It took a year longer than expected but Colfax graduate Sarah McMahon used a medical redshirt in her fourth year of college cross country and ran her final season as a fifth year senior for the Division I Bradley Braves last month.

After a very successful first three years, McMahon began to have hip problems during her third year of track and ended up having surgery on her hip which kept her from competing. Because she had missed her whole fourth season, she was allowed to use her final year of eligibility this fall. McMahon actually graduated with a degree in English last spring but is now in graduate school at the University. She only ran in three meets this fall but made the most of them by leading the Braves at the Bradley Classic meet, finishing 33rd of 267 runners and helped her team win their second straight Missouri Valley Conference Championship as the sixth runner in for the Braves. (Teammate Caitlin Busch won the race). McMahon was the third Brave to cross the finish line in 53rd place at the Midwest Regional meet in Lawrence, Kansas, helping the team place sixth.

“I had a late start with my training this year because I was dealing with some other nagging injuries,” McMahon said. “But I am pleased with how I progressed throughout the season. I was not 100% healthy but I hope to be there when indoor track starts this month,” she added.

Starting with her freshman season, McMahon was definitely not intimidated by Division I competition as she was the top finisher for Bradley in five of six meets including the Missouri Valley Conference meet and the NCAA Midwest Regional meet. She placed seventh overall in the MVC meet and was the third freshman in Bradley history to make the All Conference team. Her season best 5K time of 17:57 was the fifth best time in Bradley history and she was named the B Club Most Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. She was also a Junior All American after placing eighth at the USA Junior National Cross Country Championships that year.

As a sophomore, McMahon earned All Region Cross Country honors by placing 22nd at the NCAA Regional meet which was the best finish by a Bradley runner since 2002. She was All Conference again after placing fifth in that race, which was the best finish for a Brave since 2009. She ran a career best 5K time of 17:40 that season which was the third best time in school history and her career best 6K time of 21:24 at the NCAA Regional meet was also a third best time in Bradley history.

Things just kept getting better for McMahon as she placed second in the MVC meet her junior season in a career best time of 17:28 for the fourth best time in the school’s history. But she accomplished even more by becoming the first women in Bradley history to run under 21 minutes in a 6K race as she broke the school record in 20:54 at a meet in Bradley She lowered that time even more by running a 20:52 at the NCAA Regional meet. There is no telling what she would have done if she had stayed healthy for the 2014 season.

But running wasn’t the only thing McMahon spent her time on as she was named a MVC Scholar-Athlete for two years, was the MVC Scholar Athlete of the Week twice, the Bradley Country Financial Scholar-Athlete of the Week and won the Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award while being on the honor roll every semester. She will finish her Master’s degree this spring then decide if she wants to teach at the college level or work in a related field.

“Overall, my years running cross country for Bradley worked out very well for me,” McMahon said. “I had never had an injury through all my years of running, either in high school or college and I learned a lot about perseverance and dedication after being sidelined for a year. I had a great group of teammates and we pushed each other in practice and meets and they were very supportive when I was hurt. Competing at this level was hard work but it was a great experience and well worth all the miles of running I put in,” she concluded.