Bradley University’s top student-athlete award has been given to multiple recipients 10 times in its 67-year history, but never to members of the same family.
But Freeburg twin sisters Caitlin and Kristen Busch created a new first in Peoria by being named co-winners of the Charles Osborn Award, a prestigious honor within the Braves’ atheletic program.
“It’s a great honor and to win it together makes even better and more special,’’ Caitlin Busch said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Bradley has been a great place for both of Kristen and myself and while we’re excited about graduating and getting on with the rest of our lives. I’ve got mixed emotions because it means our competitive running careers in college are ending and we’ll be leaving a lot of very good friends.’’
The Charles Orsborn Award has been presented annually since 1951 to recognize the Bradley University graduating senior student-athlete who has best combined academic and athletic success with community service. The Busch twins, standouts in both cross country and track, were selected by the school's Intercollegiate Athletic Committee from a pool of five finalists.
Both already have been well-decorated through their careers.
Caitlin Busch is a four-time Missouri Valley Conference champion, winning the 2014 and 2015 individual titles at the MVC Women's Cross Country Championships, as well as the 2016 MVC Indoor 3,000 meters title and the 2015 MVC Indoor 5,000 meters crown. Her time of 9:47.60 at the 2015 MVC Indoor Track Championships is the school record.
A seven-time All-MVC performer in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, she also earned cross country NCAA All-Midwest Region accolades in 2014 and qualified for the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000 meters.
A health science major with a 3.77 cumulative GPA, Caitlin Busch is a seven-time MVC Scholar-Athlete honoree in cross country (2014 and 2015), indoor track (two events) and outdoor track (three events). She received the MVC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award in 2014 and 2015 and is a four-time recipient of the MVC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week. She also has earned recognition on the Bradley Athletic Director's Honor Roll in each of her first seven semesters.
Kristen Busch is a five-time Missouri Valley Conference champion, winning the 2014 and 2016 MVC Indoor title in the 5,000 meters, the 2015 MVC Outdoor championship in the 5,000 meters and the outdoor 10,000 meters crown in both 2014 and 2015.
A 12-time All-MVC honoree in cross country and track, she earned honorable mention All-America recognition in the 10,000 meters for her performance at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She earned cross country NCAA All-Midwest Region honors in 2013 and 2015 and she has qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in three events.
A health science major with a 3.66 cumulative GPA, Kristen is a nine-time Valley Scholar-Athlete in cross country (2014 and 2015), indoor track (four events) and outdoor track (three events). She received the MVC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award in 2014 and 2015 and is a four-time recipient of the MVC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week. She also has earned recognition on the Bradley Athletic Director's Honor Roll in each of the last six semesters.
The Busch sisters will compete in the MVC Outdoor Track and Field Championship this weekend in Peoria and will run in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter events. Both Kristen and Caitlin Busch have qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional in the 5,000 meters, May 20-22 at the University of Kansas and could also compete in the 10,000 meters.
Caitlin Busch said the ultimate goal remains is for both her and Kristen to qualify for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held June 8-11 at famed Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Both Busch sisters have been accepted into the three-year physical therapy graduate school program at Bradley.
“We’re going to concentrate on graduate school for the next three years,’’ Caitlin Busch said. “I can’t believe how fast these four years have gone by..... faster than high school.
“We’re still going to run when time permits. Hopefully we can do some road races.’’
The catalysts of the Bradley women's cross country team's back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference championships in 2014 and 2015, both sisters are active participants with Bradley University's Service on Saturday program, including assistance with local Easter events for children and cleaning projects in local parks, as well as Washington tornado cleanup efforts.
Both sisters serve as Bradley University tutors.
Caitlin Busch was Bradley's 2015 Varsity Club Female Most Outstanding Athlete, afterKristen Busch claimed the award in 2014, and both sisters will be considered this year, according to an initial announcement of candidates for the 2016 Varsity Club Most Oustanding Athletes Monday night.
The complete list of candidates for the Varsity Club Most Outstanding Athletes continues to be fluid as four teams are still in season. The list will be reviewed and trimmed upon the completion of the 2015-16 athletic year and the winners will be determined through voting by Bradley coaches and staff, as well as local sports media and fans, this summer.
(Note: News-Democrat sports reporter Dean Criddle also provided information for this story.)