Valparaiso cross country head coach Mike Straubel announced the winners of the programs’ yearly awards on Tuesday.
Team captains – and seniors – David Rutkowski (Cedarburg, Wis./Living Word Lutheran) and Jessica Richardson (Columbus, Ind./North) were named the MVP of their respective teams. Rutkowski ran a career best in his final collegiate race at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional 10K with a 32:53 and paced the Crusaders in four of the five races he competed in.
Richardson finished her career with one of the best seasons in program history, setting the third fastest 5K time at the Notre Dame Invitational (16:58.5) and the lowering her second fastest 6K time to 21:12.4. She was also named First-Team All-League and won the Horizon League Runner of the Week three times her senior campaign, a feat that has only been accomplished by former standout Laura Rolf in 2007, and led the Crusaders in every race.
Sophomore Liz Bloy (Freedom, Wis./Freedom) and junior Nathan Gafkjen (Fishers, Ind./Fishers) were honored with the Most Improved Award. Bloy capped off an impressive campaign with First-Team All-League honors at the Horizon League Championships with her career-best 21:57 in the 6K to finish in fifth. She finished in the top-two for Valpo in every race. Gafkjen ran a career-best 27:58.1 at the Bradley Invitational. He also won the award last season.
Seniors Eileen Carmignani (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy), Michael Salguero (Ebensburg, Pa./Central Cambria) and sophomore Adam Bruno (Bloomington, Ill./Normal) were awarded the Coach’s Award. Carmignani ran a career best 22:00.4 at the Notre Dame Invite 5K, while Salguero ran a career best 26:30.3 at the Bradley Invitational 8K. Bruno ran a 26:57 to finish in 49th place at the Horizon League Championships and finished in the top-three for the Crusaders in every race.