Bradley University sophomore Kristen Busch, of Freeburg, finished ninth in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA West Preliminary on Thursday night to advance to the NCAA Championship.
Busch, who owns Bradley school record in the 10,000 meters and won the event at the Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship earlier this month, is one of 24 individuals (top 12 from each regional site) advancing to the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore., on June 12.
Running with the lead pack the entire race, Busch was ninth in the field at 34:18.24 to finish 16 seconds behind NCAA West Prelim champ Katy Moen of Iowa State (34:02.98) and missed a top-five finish by less than nine seconds.
"This is a big day for Kristen and our program," Bradley head coach Marc Burns said. "She went out and ran a perfect qualifying race. It is very humid here and we wanted her to be patient and sit between 12th and 20th through the first half. She was between 15th and 20th through the first 5000 meters and then moved up into the top 12 and never looked back. Her first 5000 meters was 17:27 and the second half was 16:51."
Busch is the first Bradley runner to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championship since Hall of Fame member Mary Ellen Hill finished fourth in the 5,000 meters at the 1998 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship.
Busch is the second local athlete to qualify for the NCAA Division I National Championships. Former (Breese) Central standout and current Texas A&M University junior Jena Hemann will be competing in the heptathlon.
The NCAA Championship will be held June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore., with the women's 10,000 meter finals wrapping up the second day of competition, at 9:15 p.m. June 12.
Kristen Busch was a three-time state champion in the 3,200 meters and a nine-time state medal winner during her high school career at Freeburg.
Busch was also the Class 1A state cross country champion in 2010 and was a four-time state medal winner.
Busch is also scheduled to run Saturday night in the women's 5,000 meters at the NCAA West Prelims.
This information is from the Bradley University website.