Behind two strong efforts in the season's first two events, the Valpo women's cross country team is ranked eighth in the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association (WICCA) Great Lakes Regional Poll, the first ever ranking for the program.
This is the second time Head Coach Mike Straubel's group has made history this year, first doing so with a win the season-opening Crusader Invitational for the first time in the event's 18-year run. One week later, September 15, senior Danielle Nunnelly (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) finished second at the Indiana Intercollegiates in Terre Haute, Ind. by running the fastest 5K (17:48.4) in school history not recorded by Valpo Hall of Famer Collette Liss.
Nunnelly also finished second at the 4K Crusader Invitational, a race won by sophomore teammate Laura Rolf (Rochester, Mich./Lutheran Northwest). The race win was the first of the 2005 Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year's career, and she followed that strong run by finishing third at the Indiana Intercollegiates. Valpo finished second out of 26 teams at the Indiana Intercollegiates, behind only Indiana, currently ranked fourth in the Great Lakes Regional Poll.
Michigan sits atop the WICCCA poll, followed by Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Horizon League's Butler Bulldogs, part of Valpo's conference beginning next season, are ranked fifth, with Notre Dame sixth and Marquette seventh. Ohio State and Ohio, respectively, round out the top 10. The Crusaders will compete for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship November 11 in Bowling Green, Ohio. Valpo finished 19th at the event last year.
Rolf, Nunnelly and the rest of the Crusaders will be back on the course this Friday at the Notre Dame Invitational in Notre Dame, Ind. The women's 5K race is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m.