Valparaiso University's Aaron Crague (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central H.S.) became the Mid-Continent Conference champion in the 3,000m run on Friday evening as the first day of the conference championships concluded in Sterling, Ill.
The Crusaders men's team is in fourth place through five events at the meet, tallying 27 points on the opening day. Oral Roberts is currently in the lead with 47.5 points, while Southern Utah is one point behind. Western Illinois is in third place with 42 points, followed by Valpo, Chicago State (16 points), and UMKC (ten points).
Crague outran Southern Utah's Cody Moat by two seconds to win the race in a time of 8:38.21. The fifth-year senior also won a conference title in the 3,000m in 2001. Junior Matt Blume (Logansport, Ind./Pioneer H.S.) also scored for the Brown and Gold in the event, earning a seventh place finish in a time of 8:49.79, a season's best.
The other final event on the track on Friday saw Valpo finish in second place in the distance medley. The team of Dennis Kabara (Chuka, Kenya/Meru H.S.), Jed Reisetter (Lewiston, Minn./Lewiston-Altura H.S.), Kyle Jones (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.), and Nate Nunnelly (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) nearly ran down Southern Utah for the crown, coming up just short in a time of 10:33.84.
On the infield, Matt Larson (Arlington Heights, Ill./St. Viator H.S.) set a new school mark in the weight throw on his way to a ninth place finish in the event. The redshirt-sophomore's heave of 47'2¼" bettered the record he previously held by 3¼".
Joshua Lee (Yellow Jacket, Colo./Montezuma-Cortez H.S.) earned a third place finish in the long jump with his personal best leap of 21'10¼". Teammate Brian Schultz (Missoula, Mont./Hellgate H.S.) also earned the Crusaders one point in the event with his eighth place finish, jumping 20'5¾".
Preliminary heats were also held for the sprints on Friday. In the 60m dash, Scott Hill (Goshen, Ind./Northwood H.S.) qualified for Saturday's finals in seventh position with a time of 7.14 seconds. Nathanael Noon (Birmingham, Ala./John Carroll H.S.) also earned a berth in the finals for the Brown and Gold, doing so in the 60m hurdles. His time of 8.69 seconds seeds him fifth heading into the finals.
Prelims were also held in the 200m and 400m dashes, but Valpo did not have anyone qualify for the finals. Hill was the Crusaders top runner in the 200m with a time of 23.69 seconds to finish 14th, while Adam Wierciak (Ottawa, Ill./Marquette H.S.) turned in the Brown and Gold's top performance in the 400m with a time of 52.67 seconds to finish in tenth place.
The Crusaders will conclude the conference championships on Saturday morning. The meet will begin with field events at 10 a.m., with running finals slated for noon.