Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Crusaders Ready for 2008 Campaign

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Valparaiso women’s cross country team made an immediate impact on the Horizon League in its first season running in the new league, as Laura Rolf captured the individual championship and the Crusaders ran to a fourth-place team finish at the league championships.  Now, entering 2008, Rolf is back to close out her impressive career, but she has plenty of backup among her teammates, as she leads a contingent of nine Crusader runners returning for the 2008 campaign.

Rolf, who had already established herself as one of the top runners in Crusader cross country history after earning All-Region honors each of her first two seasons, surpassed even her own lofty standards last season, winning each of her first five races of the season en route to Horizon League Athlete of the Year accolades.  She kicked off the season with her second straight victory at the Crusader Open, earning league Athlete of the Week honors after defeating the field by over a minute.

Rolf followed the next week by besting a field of 94 runners at the Boston College Open, setting a new personal best in the 5K while defeating runners from Syracuse, Providence, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest among the top-five finishers.  She repeated as Horizon League Athlete of the Week after that performance.  Two weeks later, Rolf dominated the Gold Race at the Notre Dame Invitational, winning by 46 seconds while setting a new school record of 17:04 at the 5K distance.

Rolf’s new record lasted just two weeks, as she lowered her program standard by another 24 seconds at the Evansville Invitational, breaking the tape for the fourth consecutive race, this time by nearly 50 seconds.  She proceeded to capture the individual title at the Horizon League Championship in Valpo’s first season in the league for her fifth consecutive victory.

Rolf went on to earn All-Region honors for the third consecutive year, finishing sixth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, her second straight top-ten finish at the regional level.  She followed with her second consecutive top-50 placement at the NCAA Championships, crossing the line in 48th place, just 20 seconds outside the top-25.

While Rolf is the only senior on the 2008 women’s side, she is joined by a number of runners who gained a year of experience last year running for the Valpo squad.  Three Crusaders are back for their junior seasons, while six runners with sophomore eligibility return and one freshman joins the squad for the 2008 campaign.

Alyssa Bradford returns for her third season with the Crusaders after contributing to Valpo’s team score in five of her six races last year, including both the Horizon League Championships and the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.  Bradford cut over 40 seconds off of her career-best 5K time last year, running a 20:28 at the Notre Dame Invitational, and chopped 50 seconds off of her 6K time at the regional meet.

Rachel Howell also ran six times as a sophomore for the Crusaders, finishing among Valpo’s top-five on five occasions.   Emily Thompson, the Crusaders’ third junior, did not run last year as a sophomore after competing four times as a freshman. Howell ran a career-best 20:09.47 5K at the Evansville Invitational last year, over two minutes faster than her fastest 5K as a freshman, and placed fifth for Valpo at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional with a time of 25:27.47 over 6K.

Caitlin Sauerhage is back for her second year in the Crusader uniform.  In her first year running at Valpo, Sauerhage competed five times and was the third-fastest Crusader runner in all five races.  She ran a season-best 5K time of 19:16.51 at the Evansville Invitational, just 42 seconds shy of Valpo’s all-time top-ten in the distance.

Whitney Bowman and Sara Christensen each raced six times for Valpo during their first season on the squad.  Both runners posted season-best times at the Evansville Invitational, as Christensen ran a 20:26.48 to finish 55th and Bowman crossed the line 65th in 20:51.26 in the 124-runner field.  Windy Santa Cruz took to the course three times in her first season with the Crusaders, while Jorie Ballun raced twice as a freshman for Valpo.

Two newcomers round out the 2008 Crusader women’s cross country squad.  Lindsey Gilman joins the cross country team this year with sophomore eligibility.  Gilman has competed for the Crusader track and field team during each of her first two years at Valpo, and played for the Valpo volleyball team during its 2007 season.  Kristine Clay will be the lone freshman on this year’s team, coming to Valparaiso from Kalamazoo Christian H.S., where she was a two-time conference champion and twice earned All-Region accolades.

The schedule opens up at home for the 15th consecutive year, as the Crusaders take to the course at Sunset Hills Farm Park to host the annual Crusader Invitational on Friday, Sept. 5.  Two weeks later, on Friday, Sept. 19, the squad heads down to Bloomington to compete at the Indiana Intercollegiates.

Notre Dame is the next destination, as the Crusaders will run in the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday, Oct. 3.  The final tuneup for the league championship meet will be the NCAA Pre-Nationals, hosted this year by Indiana State, on Saturday, Oct. 18.

Valpo will venture outside of Indiana for the only time on the season for the Horizon League Championships, hosted by Green Bay, on Saturday, Nov. 1.  Two weeks later, the NCAA Great Lakes Regional will be held in West Lafayette, and the NCAA Cross Country Championships will be contested on Nov. 24 in Terre Haute.

The Crusaders know what they have atop their lineup entering the 2008 campaign in Rolf, one of the nation’s fastest runners.  Continued improvement from the rest of the squad could put the Crusaders in line to challenge for a Horizon League title in 2008.

W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay