Laura Rolf (Rochester, Mich./Lutheran Northwest) won her fifth consecutive race Saturday morning at Sunset Hills Farm Park in Valparaiso, winning the Horizon League Championship and helping the Crusaders to a fourth-place team finish.
Valpo tallied 118 points as a team for its fourth-place finish. Butler took top team honors with 33 points, finishing with three of the top five runners.
Rolf was locked in a duel the entire race with Butler’s Genni Gardner, the top returning runner from last year’s championship meet. The two were running even at 6:50 through two kilometers of the 5K race before Rolf eventually pulled away, crossing the line in 17:33.0. The junior finished just five seconds ahead of Gardner, her second-closest margin of victory this season.
“Laura just continues to have an outstanding season,” said Crusader head coach Mike Straubel. “You don’t go undefeated into regionals unless you’re a national-caliber runner, and Laura has proven this season she belongs in that top echelon nationally.”
Rachael Button (Farmington Hills, Mich./Farmington) earned First Team All-League honors for the first time in her career, finishing strong to place sixth with a time of 18:53.5. For the senior, it was her first time earning First Team honors after being a part of the Mid-Con’s Second Team last year.
“Rachael ran a tremendous race today,” said Straubel. “It has been good to see her, as a senior, steadily progress to this point and race her way onto the First Team in the final league championship of her career.”
Freshman Caitlin Sauerhage (Rising Sun, Ind./Rising Sun) was the third-best Crusader finisher, placing 25th with a time of 20:14.0. Fellow freshman Aubrey Bosma (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian) finished the race in 20:53.5, good for 44th place, while sophomore Alyssa Bradford (Mukwonago, Wis./Mukwonago) closed out Valpo’s scorers by finishing 46th in 20:55.7.
“I thought that, as a team, we ran well today, but we’re still very young,” said Straubel. “We have a gap right now between our top two runners, who are both upperclassmen, and our other runners, which are underclassmen. With more experience, we will get faster and be able to challenge for a better finish.”
Valparaiso returns to action in two weeks on Saturday, November 10 as the Crusaders travel to Bloomington, Ind. to take part in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. The 6K race will begin at 11:15 a.m. CST.