Ashley Billstrom (Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) led the Crusaders at the Hillsdale Gina Relays Friday with a dominating performance in the 3,000m steeplechase, breaking her own school record and qualifying for the NCAA Regional meet.
Billstrom broke the tape ahead of 52 other runners in the steeplechase with a time of 10:40.38, bettering her own Crusader record by more than 10 seconds and surpassing the NCAA qualifying standard by better than nine seconds. The senior, who also broke the meet record in the event, finished ahead of her closest competitor, Michigan State's Leah Elenbaas, by 18.42 seconds. Billstrom's time is the fifth-best posted in the NCAA Division I Mideast Region this season.
Billstrom was not the only Crusader athlete to have a strong showing in the steeplechase, as Danielle Nunnelly (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), running the event for the first time in her four years at Valpo, placed 23rd with a time of 11:47.22, the fifth-best showing in the event in Crusader history.
Continuing the theme of strong efforts from the long-distance runners, Rachael Button (Farmington, Mich./Farmington) also cracked Valpo's all-time top-five in the 10,000m run. Button crossed the line in 38:03.03, good for 15th place in the event and the fourth-best time all-time at Valpo.
Emilie Marsicek (Spalding, Mich./Carney-Nadeau) led the Crusaders in the throws, finishing 11th in the shot put with a toss of 43'0 ½" and 20th in the hammer throw with a mark of 133'11". Marsicek also placed sixth in the heptathlon, totaling 3,573 points, while Lindsey Gilman (South Bend, Ind./Marian) finished ninth with 3,489 points.
Valparaiso returns to the track for the final day of competition Saturday at 9 a.m. CDT.