Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Vincent Walker has announced the signing of five newcomers who will join the programs for the 2024-25 season.
The Beacons will welcome Ally Higbee (Oconomowoc, Wis. / Oconomowoc), Kensington Black (Franklin, Ohio / Franklin Senior), Parker Dietrick (Maple Grove, Minn. / Wayzata), Benjamin Crombie (Lincoln, Ill. / Lincoln) and Tyler Swartz (Warsaw, Ind. / Warsaw Community) to the program next fall.
Higbee was a three-sport athlete in high school, competing in ski racing in addition to track & field and cross country. She was also a three-time Scholar-Athlete honoree and was named 2022 Academic All-State for cross country.
“I chose Valpo because from my first call with the coach, I felt wanted and inspired as not only a runner, but for who I am as a human,” Higbee said. “On campus, I always felt welcomed and heard. I can’t wait to see what I will do in my next four years as a Beacon.”
Higbee is a four-year honor roll member, an AP Scholar and is active in six honor societies – National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society, Business National Honor Society, Computer Science National Honor Society and English National Honor Society. She participates in several clubs including HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America), Future Business Leaders of America and Math Team. She is also involved in girl scouts and works as a nursing assistant for a youth apprenticeship.
“Ally joining the team is a huge boost for us,” Walker said. “She seamlessly jelled with the team on her visit, showcasing that she’s a natural fit. Her drive and potential are just starting to shine through to what she is capable of. Her passion for both the sport and the team fits our culture perfectly.”
Black broke the Franklin High School women’s cross country 5K record and the 3200m school record. A first team all-league honoree in cross country as a freshman and senior, Black earned All-Ohio Division 1 as a freshman and was the Southwestern Buckeye League cross country champion as a senior. She competed in the cross country Division I Regional Meet as a freshman, sophomore and senior and earned a spot in the state meet as a freshman and senior. She was also named Southwestern Buckeye League Cross Country Athlete of the Year as a senior and earned Academic All-Ohio in cross country following her senior campaign.
“I chose Valparaiso University because of how much I felt at home on campus,” Black said. “I was immediately welcomed by the students, athletes and faculty. I am confident that I will get an amazing education while also getting to compete in cross country and track & field. It’s the best of both worlds, and I am excited to spend the next four years of my life at Valpo.”
Black is ranked fourth of 205 in her graduating class, has earned Principal’s Scholar-Athlete every semester of high school and owns an academic letter and academic “swiss stars” status courtesy of her GPA of 3.5+. A member of Spanish National Honor Society and National Honor Society and the Vice President of NHS, Black was the HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) 10th-grade representative for the Ohio Southwest Leadership Conference and the 10th-grade female representative for the Southwest Buckeye League Leadership Conference.
Outside of cross country and track & field, Black also participated in two years of varsity basketball and two years of varsity swimming. She tied the Franklin High School girls basketball single-game assist record as a freshman and was named Southwestern Buckeye League Honorable Mention for girls basketball following her rookie campaign. Her hobbies include reading, being outdoors, playing Spike Ball and being active.
“I am thrilled to have Kensie joining our program,” Walker said. “Her racing style and dedication to her craft show a maturity that’s rare for someone her age. Her love of the sport and team-first attitude align perfectly with our values here at Valpo. She will look to make an immediate impact for us next fall.”
Dietrick lettered in cross country every year beginning in eighth grade and was a team captain in 2022 and 2023 and an all-conference honoree in 2021 and 2022. During the 2021, 2022 and 2023 campaigns, he was part of a team that earned state, section and conference championships. In track & field, he was part of the 4x800 relay that was second at the state meet and earned academic all-state in 2021 and 2022 in addition to all-state and all-conference in 2022.
“I chose Valpo because on my visit, it felt like home,” Dietrick said. “Seeing the academic facilities, I was amazed and knew this is where I wanted to go for the next four years.”
Dietrick, who also participates in Nordic skiing, enjoys music, being involved with his church, woodworking and working at TC Running in his spare time.
“Having been a key piece to his team winning three Minnesota state titles and qualifying for NXN (Nike Cross Nationals) twice, Parker brings a lot of high-end racing experience to our program,” Walker said. “His competitive nature and knowledge of the sport will bring a unique perspective to our team. We are counting on him to make an immediate impact come next fall.”
Crombie is a three-sport varsity athlete and is an all-conference honoree in all three sports – soccer, cross country and track & field. He has earned all-state honors in track & field and is a team captain on the soccer pitch.
“From the moment I stepped on campus, Valpo felt like home,” Crombie said. “Everything from the beautiful town to the team environment helped me realize it was the perfect fit.”
Crombie also earned academic honor roll status, is a member of his school’s chess club and is the president of the Future Business Leaders of America Club.
“Ben is a highly-driven individual with a lot of big goals,” Walker said. “To see all he has achieved in his high school running career while also playing soccer is impressive. He has truly just started to scratch the surface of what he is capable of, and it will be fun to watch his success continue to grow as he develops in our program. We are excited to have him join the team.”
Swartz is a three-time state participant in cross country and owns a 15:57 cross country PR to go along with a 2:00 PR in the 800. He is a four-year varsity letterwinner.
“I chose to come to Valpo because I loved the business school and cross country team,” Swartz said. “It felt like home.”
Swartz is a member of his school’s honor roll and National Honor Society and boasts a 3.8 grade point average.
“Tyler is a hardworking, talented athlete whose dedication and passion for the sport are infectious,” Walker said. “His ability to navigate tough races with resilience and composure sets him apart from his peers. His positive attitude and team-first focus make him the perfect fit for our program. He brings a lot of experience and tools to our team and will help us continue to build towards our team goals.”