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Valpo Wins First Crusader Invitational in Style
Friday, September 08, 2006For the first time in the 18-year history of the event, the Valpo women's cross country team won the Crusader Invitational Friday, riding the one-two finishes of Laura Rolf (Rochester, Mich./Lutheran Northwest) and Danielle Nunnelly (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) to best second-place Notre Dame by one point at Sunset Hills Farm.
Valpo's 36 points gave them the narrowest of victories over the Fighting Irish, who had 27 points and placed five runners in the top 12. But it was the Crusaders' one-two punch of Rolf and Nunnelly that carried the Brown and Gold to victory.
Rolf completed the 4K course in 14:20, seven seconds clear of her teammate, earning the first victory of her brief career. The sophomore earned All-Conference and All-Region honors as a freshman, but finished no higher than second in any event, crossing as the runner-up at the 2005 Crusader and Evansville Invitationals.
The senior Nunnelly teamed with Rolf to dust the rest of the field, crossing the line 18 seconds ahead of third place, the largest gap between any of the race's first 65 finishers. Not to be overlooked, Rachael Button (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington) turned in a top-five finish, hitting the line in fifth place with a time of 15:00.
Ashley Billstrom (Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) and Renae Swift (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) were the other two scoring Crusaders, finishing 11th and 17th respectively.
IPFW finished third in the event with 70 points, well behind second place, while Western Michigan, UW-Milwaukee, Saint Joseph's (Ind.) and UW-Green Bay rounded out the seven-team field.
The Brown and Gold will have one week to savor the win before heading south to Terre Haute on September 15 for the Indiana Intercollegiates. The 5K women's race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.