After a sixth place finish in 2004, the Valparaiso men's cross country team looks to make a move into the top half of the league at the Mid-Continent Conference Championships Saturday at Sunset Hills Farm.
Valpo has posted three top-ten finishes as a team this season. The Brown and Gold started 2005 tying for sixth place at the Crusader Invitational. The Crusaders then traveled to California and came home with a seventh-place finish at the Stanford Invitational. Most recently, Valpo competed in the Evansville Invitational, running to a fourth-place finish.
The Crusaders have been led by youth throughout the 2005 season. Freshman Jim Turchyn (Batesville, Ind./Batesville H.S.) has been the most consistent presence at the top of the Valpo lineup. Turchyn ran a season-best 27:00 for eight kilometers at the Crusader Invitational, and also posted top-25 finishes at the Stanford Invitational and the Evansville Invitational.
Sophomore Michael Brouch (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) posted the best time of any Valpo runner this season, crossing the line in 26:50.25 over 8K at the Evansville Invitational, good for a 13th place finish. In addition, Brouch finished second among Crusader runners at the Crusader Invitational.
Junior Adriano Schultz (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights H.S.) crossed the line first for Valpo at the Notre Dame Invitational, and finished in Valpo's top-three two other times. Adriano's brother, freshman Leandro Schultz (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights H.S.), led Valpo's lineup at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational, and posted a top-25 finish overall at the Evansville Invitational. Senior David Wheeler (Saint Charles, Ill./Saint Charles East H.S.) and freshman Rich Krupar (Elyria, Ohio/Midview H.S.) are among the runners that the Crusaders will look to round out the team score.
Southern Utah returns three of the top-five finishers from the 2004 Championship meet, including Athlete of the Year Jess Baumgartner, in their quest to capture their eighth conference title. Among the main challengers for the Thunderbirds are the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland, who boast three of the top-seven 8K times in Mid-Con action this season.
Valparaiso's schedule was set, aiming to have the Crusaders peaking for the championship this weekend. If Turchyn and Brouch lead the way for the Crusaders, and the other runners improve upon season-best times, Valpo should contend for a top-four conference finish.