Senior Jarrett Mickens (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) was named the Horizon League’s Most Outstanding Field Performer, while freshman Julian Smith (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice) was named Running Newcomer of the Year as both lowered their own school records on Sunday to lead Valparaiso in the final day of action at the league’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in Geneva, Ohio.
Valpo totaled 36 points in the two-day meet, good for sixth place, as the Crusaders finished ahead of UIC. Milwaukee took home the team title with 126.5 points.
For the second straight day, Mickens improved upon his own school record en route to an event victory. Sunday, it was a standout performance in the triple jump, as the senior leapt 48’10” to win the event by nine-and-a-half inches. Mickens’ jump was eight inches further than his previous best in the event, and he has now jumped two feet further than anybody else in program history. Fellow senior Steve Schubert (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) finished eighth in the triple jump as well, posting a season-best distance of 44’10 ¼”.
Meanwhile, Smith earned a pair of podium finishes Sunday to secure his individual accolade. One day after shattering Valpo’s school record in the 200m dash, the freshman cut another 0.12 seconds off his own top time, crossing the line in 21.75 seconds. Smith’s time was good for a third-place finish and was just 0.03 seconds outside of the runner-up slot. Smith also posted a third-place finish in the 60m dash Sunday, covering the distance in 6.93 seconds, just 0.02 off his own school record in the event.
The Crusaders also had a relay squad break into their top-five times all-time, as the 4x400m relay team ran to a seventh-place finish. The team of Smith, Derek Schnake (Chicago, Ill./Lincoln Park), Joe Holy (Bolingbrook, Ill./Joliet Catholic) and Keith Button (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington) crossed the line in 3:25.61, the third-fastest such relay in program history and less than a half-second off of the second-fastest time.
A number of Valpo distance runners posted PRs on Sunday to pace the Crusader contingents in their respective events. Sophomore Wally Bradford (Mukwonago, Wis./Mukwonago) ran to a 12th-place finish in the mile run, crossing the line in a PR time of 4:22.03. Senior Joel Hartenberger (Albuquerque, N.M./Sandia) broke nine minutes for the first time in his career in the 3,000m run, placing 17th with a time of 8:59.86, while junior Nick Fagan (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) finished right behind Hartenberger with a PR of 9:00.70.
On the infield, sophomore Andrew Rixon (Deerfield, Ill./Deerfield) contributed to the Crusader team score with a fifth-place finish in the shot put. Rixon recorded a top toss of 45’11 ¼”, a new personal best in the event. Sophomore Charlie Walesa (Chicago, Ill./Luther North) also picked up a top-ten on the infield, placing ninth in the high jump after clearing 6’0 ½”.
The league championship meet closed the Crusaders’ 2011 indoor campaign. Valpo will return to action outdoors in late March at the Polar Bear Invitational in Marion, Ind.