The 1998 track and cross country season was a dream time for Bradley long distance runner Mary Ellen Hill, a former Princeville High School athlete.
Highlights of her indoor and outdoor track season and fall cross country season leap out at every turn. She was fourth in the NCAA outdoor championships in the 5,000 meter run in 16:08.72. She was ninth in the NCAA indoor championships in the 5,000 in 16:44.13. She was only the second athlete in Bradley history to score in an outdoor NCAA championship meet.
Mary Ellen twice earned NCAA All-American honors. She won the Missouri Valley Conference cross country championship by 17 seconds in 17:18. She was named Valley Track Athlete of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
But there were other big moments. When she ran in the NCAA cross country meet, where she finished 63rd, Hill became the first Bradley athlete to run in three NCAA events in one year.
Dominating the Missouri Valley Conference women's running scene, she was named Valley women cross country athlete of the week three times last fall.
She dominated in the spring in the 5,000 meters: she broke the Bradley and Valley meet record in 16:38.82, won the Bradley Open, was third in the Indiana Invitational, was third in the Drake Relays and ran the distance in 16:22.54 at the Stanford Invitational.
She also set a Valley meet record at 3,000 meters in 9:45.28 and then ran the distance in 9:39.86 in the Iowa State Classic. Only a junior, she still has two indoor and two outdoor track seasons to go plus one more cross country campaign.