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Laura Rolf Carries Crusaders in Near-Record Style
Friday, September 29, 2006Sophomore Laura Rolf (Rochester, Mich./Lutheran Northwest) obliterated her previous career-best and nearly broke one of Valpo's most hallowed school records Friday afternoon at the Notre Dame Invitational Blue Race, leading the Crusaders against 18 of the nation's top teams.
Rolf completed the 5K course in 17:18, over 30 seconds faster than any other time in her brief career. The sophomore came within five seconds of two-time All-Region and Valpo Sports Hall of Fame runner Collette Liss, who's school record of 17:13 from 1997 had never been seriously challenged before Friday. Rolf's teammate Danielle Nunnelly (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) had run the second fastest time, 17:48 two weeks ago at the Indiana Intercollegiates, but Rolf, who finished 22nd overall, was a full 30 seconds faster at Notre Dame. Rolf's time was the third fastest run in the Mid-Con this year, behind only All-American Faithy Kamangila of Oral Roberts and her teammate Dianna Chelimo, each of whom have eclipsed 17:00.
As for the rest of the team, Valpo placed 17th out of 19 teams, but ahead of both regionally-ranked Ohio and Purdue. Nunnelly was the second Crusader to cross, running a very fast 17:54 and finishing in 62nd place. Rachael Button (Farmington, Mich./Farmington) was next, knocking five seconds off her personal best by running an 18:24 and Ashley Billstrom (Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) also ran a career-quick race, finishing in 18:35. Renae Swift (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) and freshman Anna Yost (Girard, Kan./Girard) also ran personal bests.
The Notre Dame Invitational is broken into two races, Blue and Gold, with the Blue race containing the event's fastest squads, including five of the nation's top 20 teams and many other regionally ranked outfits, including the Crusaders who entered the weekend ranked eighth in the Great Lakes Region.
Valpo will next be in action at the Evansville Invitational on October 14, their final tune-up before the Mid-Continent Conference Championships on October 28. The women's 5K at the Evansville Invitational is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m.