Freshman Jessica Richardson (Columbus, Ind./North) recorded the first top-ten finish of her career, running to a ninth-place finish on Saturday at the Evansville Invitational in Evansville, Ind. to lead the Valparaiso women's cross country team, which posted an eighth-place team finish.
The Crusaders tallied 172 total points for their eighth-place finish on Saturday. Belmont earned the team title with 32 total points, while Summer Cano, an unattached runner, crossed the finish line first.
Richardson ran a career-best time en route to her ninth-place showing, crossing the finish line in 18:34.74. The freshman was just over 30 seconds behind the race winner and less than 10 seconds outside of the top-five runners. She was backed up by a strong run from sophomore Claire Johnson (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie), who also ran a career-best time of 18:58.73 to finish in 20th position.
Sophomore Nicole Zehel (Wixom, Mich./Lutheran Westland) was the third Valpo runner to cross the finish line Saturday, covering the 5K course in 19:28.50, good for a 29th-place finish. Junior Haley Kerlin (Rensselaer, Ind./Rensselaer) finished in 60th place with a time of 20:25.05, while sophomore Grace Shemwell (Clinton, Iowa/Clinton) rounded out Valpo's top-five runners by finishing with a time of 21:07.33 to finish in 82nd place.
Valparaiso now prepares for the Horizon League Championships, to be contested in two weekends. The league championship meet will take place in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, Oct. 29, with the women's 5K slated for a 11 a.m. CDT start.