Valpo Men Set to Begin 2009-2010 Track and Field Campaign
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Valpo Men Set to Begin 2009-2010 Track and Field Campaign
Jarrett Mickens is among the Crusaders' top returning athletes this year. (Ray Acevedo)
Head coach Ryan Moore has the Valparaiso men’s track and field team ready for the 2009-2010 season, with the indoor slate set to kick off on Saturday at Illinois State’s Redbird Open.

Moore, now in his fourth season as head coach of the Crusaders, welcomes back 17 letterwinners from the 2008-2009 squad.  He has brought in 11 newcomers as well this year to comprise the 2009-2010 team.

Sophomore Vince Liuzzo boasts the top Horizon League Championship event placement last year of the Crusaders’ returnees, as he finished second in the javelin throw outdoors last year.  Liuzzo, one of five returning Crusaders with top-ten finishes in a championship event last season, also ranked among Valpo’s top sprinters last year.  He will be joined in the sprints by juniors Jarrett Mickens, who was the top Crusader last season in the middle-sprint events, and Ryan Ruppel, as well as freshmen Mike Kash and Alex Rahn, who will focus on the hurdles.

Liuzzo will also be focusing more on the jumps this year as well, joining an experienced corps of jumpers in the Valpo lineup.  Mickens earned a trio of top-ten finishes over the league indoor and outdoor meets in the jumps and ranks among the Crusaders’ all-time best triple jumpers, while junior Steve Schubert also earned top-ten showings both indoors and outdoors in the triple jump last season.  They will be joined this year by newcomer Chris Hovan.

“Vince will be doing more work on the jumps this year, and we really look for him to help push that group to better performances this season,” said Moore.  “We have a young, talented sprints group as well and my hope is that our upperclassmen bring the young guys along, as we have a lot of untapped potential in that group.”

Sophomore Bill Rixon looks to lead the Crusader throwing contingent this season, coming off of an outdoor championship season where he finished fourth in the league in the discus throw and seventh in the hammer throw.  Bill’s younger brother, Andrew Rixon, joins the Valpo squad as a freshman this year, as does fellow thrower Ryan Stegenga.

Valpo also brings back a large corps of runners from the cross country squad, as 18 distance runners dot the Crusader track roster.  Among the top returnees in the distance category are sophomore Jordan Piaskowy, who finished ninth outdoors at the Horizon League Championships last year in the 3,000m steeplechase, and junior Joel Hartenberger, who was among Valpo’s top long-distance runners last year and paced the Crusader cross country team on four occasions this year.

“Bill is definitely going to be one of the top returning throwers in the league, especially during the outdoor season but possibly indoors as well,” said Moore.  “We will also be counting on our distance runners this season to step up and help out the team, putting some points on the board for us during the indoor campaign.”

Valpo’s schedule aims to have the Crusaders peaking for the league championship events, both during the indoor and outdoor seasons.  The indoor slate will kick off December 5 at the Redbird Open in Normal, Ill.  The Crusaders will also run at Grand Valley State, Michigan, Findlay, Chicagoland and Purdue during the indoor campaign, before heading to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take part in the Horizon League Indoor Championships February 27-28.  The NCAA Indoor Championships will be held March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.

The outdoor season begins March 27 at the Polar Bear Invitational in Marion, Ind.  Valpo will also compete at DePauw, Miami, Northern Illinois, Purdue and Aquinas throughout the month of April.  The Horizon League Outdoor Championships will take place April 30-May 2 in Lisle, Ill.  Any athletes that qualify for the NCAA Mideast Regional will compete May 28-29, while the NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore.