The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s cross country teams will begin the 2019-2020 season with clear goals in mind.
After setting both the program’s 8K and 10K records in 2018, standout fifth-year senior Alexander Bruno (Bloomington, Ill./University) is back for a final season with his eyes on continued improvement.
“At the conference meet, certainly my goal is Top 3,” he said. “Anything less than that is a disappointment. I’d like to win. To make a national meet would be awesome.”
Bruno, who was a first-team all-conference runner last year, set Valpo’s 8K record (24:23) at the MVC Championships on Oct. 27 and the 10K record (31:54.4) on Nov. 9 at NCAA Regionals. Both records were previously held by Aaron Crague since 2001.
Head coach Mike Straubel, who is back for his 33rd season heading the Brown & Gold, endorsed several returning runners as key components of the 2019-2020 men’s squad. Among those he cited his excitement for are sophomores Jack Worman (Hanover Parks, Ill./Hoffman Estates) and Ignacio Veloz Bonilla (San Juan, P.R./American Military Academy) as well as junior Dominic Paoletti (Monroe, Mich./Monroe St. Mary).
“They had great times last year,” Straubel said. “If we can just repeat last year’s times and maybe go a little faster, we are going to be in prime position to do well at the conference meet.”
Straubel will look toward captain Katherine Germann (Cincinnati, Ohio/Finneytown) to lead the women’s team, which also includes senior Taylor Justison (Catham, Ill./Glenwood) and team newcomer Alaina Carpenter (Grandville, Mich./Grandville). Germann broke into the program’s Top 10 times in both the 5K (18:12.9) and 6K (22:32.7) during the 2018-2019 campaign, while Justison returns for her fourth season.
Valpo will open the season on Friday with the 31st annual Crusader Open held at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, where teams from Notre Dame, IUPUI, Loyola and Indiana State will convene. The women’s race will start at 5 p.m., and the men’s race beings at 5:45 p.m. This year’s home meet will serve as a precursor to the MVC Championship, which will take place at Sunset Hill Farm in November.