Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Senior-Laden Squad Takes to the Course in 2009 for Crusaders
Sara Christensen placed in all six races for Valpo last season. (Ray Acevedo)
Sara Christensen placed in all six races for Valpo last season. (Ray Acevedo)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

While the Valparaiso women’s cross country team lost one of the top runners in program history in Laura Rolf to graduation following last season, a ton of experience returns for the 2009 campaign, as everybody else who finished among the Crusaders’ top-five runners in any meet last year is back, including six seniors.

Whitney Bowman returns for her third season as a Valpo runner after improving vastly over the course of the 2008 campaign.  Bowman ended up placing for the Crusaders in four meets last season, including a season-best 5K time of 19:25.65 at the Evansville Invitational, which was over 85 seconds faster than her career-best 5K entering the 2008 season.  She also put together perhaps her finest performance of the year at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, where she was the third-fastest Crusader runner, completing the 8K in 24:47.4.

True senior Alyssa Bradford is back for her final year, coming off a year in which she competed in all six races for Valpo, placing twice.  Bradford surpassed her then career-best 5K at the Indiana Intercollegiates with a time of 20:19 and then cut 35 seconds more off that time next time out at Notre Dame, finishing the race in 19:44.

Sara Christensen is back for her third season after placing for the Crusaders in all six races in 2008, including finishing as Valpo’s second-fastest runner on four occasions.  Christensen broke the 20-minute barrier in all five 5K races on the year after not having surpassed the barrier in her first season as a Crusader, including a season-best time of 19:04.01 at the Evansville Invitational.  She also posted a top-25 finish at the Horizon League Championships, helping the Crusaders to a fourth-place team finish.

Lindsey Gilman stepped right into the team in her first season on the squad after previously playing volleyball and running track, scoring for the Crusaders in all six races despite not having run cross country at any level prior to last year.  Gilman was the second-fastest Crusader in her first career race at the Crusader Open, one of three sub-20 minute performances for her on the year.  Her season-best time came at the Evansville Invitational, where she crossed the line in 19:10.04.

Windy Santa Cruz returns for her third year on the Crusader cross country team.  She competed in five races for Valpo last year, slashing 86 seconds off her career-best 5K time with an outing of 21:06 at the Notre Dame Invitational.  Caitlin Sauerhage is the final Crusader senior.  She raced five times for the Crusaders in 2008, finishing among Valpo’s top-five on four occasions, including finishing as the second-fastest Crusader at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional with an 8K time of 24:39.5.

Junior Jorie Ballun is back for her third season as a Crusader after racing three times for Valpo last year.  Ballun cut nearly 43 seconds off of her career-best 5K time with a 21:55.43 performance at the Evansville Invitational.  Sophomore Kristine Clay also returns after a freshman campaign in which she competed in all six races for the Crusaders, placing twice.  Her season-best 5K time of 20:08 came at the season-opening Crusader Open, while she also scored for Valpo at the Horizon League Championships.

The Crusaders also welcome three newcomers to the 2009 squad.  Junior Anna Urish joins the team after not running cross country in her first two seasons at Valpo, while Rensselaer, Ind. native Haley Kerlin and Elburn, Ill. native Ali Olson are running as true freshmen this year.

Valparaiso will open the season at home for the 16th consecutive year in one of four races to prepare for the Horizon League Championships.  Now in its 21st season, the Crusader Open will be contested over the course at Sunset Hills Farm on Friday, Sept. 4 to kick off the campaign.

Two weeks later, the Crusaders will travel down to Nashville, Tenn. to run in the Commodore Classic on Saturday, Sept. 19, hosted by Vanderbilt.  A shorter trip is on the docket for Friday, Oct. 2, as Valpo heads east to take part in the Notre Dame Invitational.  Friday, Oct. 16 concludes the regular season, as the Crusaders cross the state line to the west to run at the Bradley Classic.

With those four races under their belts, the Crusaders will aim to peak at the Horizon League Championships, contested this year at Kensington Metropark in Milford, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 31, hosted by Detroit.  The NCAA Great Lakes Regional is slated to be run Saturday, Nov. 14 in Bloomington, Ind., and if any Crusaders qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, they would compete Monday, Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Crusaders enter the 2009 campaign with the knowledge that they have proven contributors up and down the roster.  If somebody steps up and takes the place atop the lineup, Valpo could be in line to challenge for one of the top spots in the Horizon League this season.

M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
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
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
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 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
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W 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 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
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M 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
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W 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