The Valparaiso women's cross country team looks to improve third place team finishes in 2003 and 2004 as they head into Saturday's Mid-Continent Conference Championships at Sunset Hills Farm.
The Crusaders have put together a successful season, posting three top-four finishes as a team among the four meets they have taken part in this year. The Brown and Gold posted runner-up finishes at the Crusader Invitational and the Evansville Invitational, as well as running to a fourth-place finish at the prestigious Stanford Invitational.
Freshman sensation Laura Rolf (Rochester, Mich./Lutheran Northwest H.S.) has led the way for Valpo in 2005. Rolf kicked off the season with a runner-up placement at the Crusader Invitational, posting a 6K time of 22:58, fifth-best among Mid-Con runners this season. She posted a 12th place finish at the Stanford Invitational, earning Mid-Con Athlete of the Week honors for her performance, and also finished 12th at the Notre Dame Invitational. Most recently, Rolf crossed the line at the Evansville Invitational as the second-place finisher.
Sophomore Rachael Button (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington H.S.) has been Valpo's number-two threat much of the season. Button has turned in two top-ten individual finishes in 2005, crossing the line fourth at the Crusader Invitational and running to a sixth-place finish at the Evansville Invitational. Her 6K time of 23:14 at the Crusader Invitational is good for sixth-best in the Mid-Con this year.
Senior Jobeth Schmiesing (Mankato, Minn./Mankato West H.S.) and junior Danielle Nunnelly (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) have consistently been among Valpo's top runners this year. Schmiesing placed 11th last time out at the Evansville Invitational, running 18:41.39 over five kilometers. Nunnelly took eighth place at the Crusader Invitational, covering 6K in 23:34, in addition to two other top-20 finishes on the season. Junior Ashley Billstrom (Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall H.S.) and sophomore Lisa Schroeck (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) have also finished among Valpo's top-five in meets this season, and will be key to Valpo's scoring as the Crusaders reach for the top.
Valparaiso will face stiff competition in the conference championship meet from schools such as Southern Utah, winners of seven straight championship meets, Oral Roberts, who boasts 2004 Athlete of the Year Faithy Kamangila, and UMKC, returning two of last year's top six overall finishers. If the Crusaders run to their talent level, they will also be strong contenders for the Mid-Con championship.