Moore’s women’s squad for the 2009-2010 campaign features eight returning letterwinners from last year’s team. In addition, he has brought in seven newcomers to round out this year’s team.
The core of the 2009-2010 Crusader squad is its distance contingent, as a group of ten distance runners dominates the roster. Leading the way is senior Alyssa Bradford, Valpo’s top runner at the middle distances last year. Bradford picked up a fourth-place finish at the Horizon League Indoor Championships last year in the 800m run, and finished ninth in the same event at the league’s outdoor championship meet. During this past cross country campaign, Bradford finished among Valpo’s top runners in five meets.
Fellow senior Sara Christensen stood out for Valpo in the 3,000m steeplechase during last year’s outdoor season, placing sixth at the Horizon League Outdoor Championships in the event. Christensen ran among the Crusaders’ top-five runners during the cross country season in all six of Valpo’s races as well. Redshirt junior Whitney Bowman also returns to the track following a cross country season where she ran among Valpo’s top-five runners in all six races.
“With it being Alyssa’s senior year, she really has the opportunity to take the bull by the horns and go with it,” said Moore. “She is poised to have a great final season, and I hope to see her set the tone for the rest of the distance group, which is the core of this year’s team.”
The Crusaders also return sophomore Natalie McCorriston in the throws, who finished tenth in the league indoors in the shot put and outdoors in the javelin throw last season. Redshirt sophomore Alison Eyer also saw some action in the throwing events last year as well.
Among the newcomers is freshman pole vaulter Gianna Mirabelli, who placed third at the IHSAA State Finals as a junior in high school, clearing 12’0”. She will be joined by fellow freshman pole vaulter Kara Connelly, while freshman Rachel DeFrank will see action in the throws for the Crusaders this season.
“Gianna should be one of the top performers in the league in the pole vault this year,” said Moore. “Having Kara as a training partner with experience in the event will only help her, as they can push each other in practice to get better.”
Valpo’s schedule aims to have the Crusaders peaking for the league championship events, both during the indoor and outdoor seasons. The indoor slate will kick off December 5 at the Redbird Open in Normal, Ill. The Crusaders will also run at Grand Valley State, Michigan, Findlay, Chicagoland and Purdue during the indoor campaign, before heading to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take part in the Horizon League Indoor Championships February 27-28. The NCAA Indoor Championships will be held March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.
The outdoor season begins March 27 at the Polar Bear Invitational in Marion, Ind. Valpo will also compete at DePauw, Miami, Northern Illinois, Purdue and Aquinas throughout the month of April. The Horizon League Outdoor Championships will take place April 30-May 2 in Lisle, Ill. Any athletes that qualify for the NCAA Mideast Regional will compete May 28-29, while the NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore.