A solid base of experience, led by 2006 Mid-Continent Conference Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year Steve Bartholomew, will look to propel Valparaiso's men's track and field team into the top half of the Mid-Con in 2007.
Ryan Moore will guide the Crusader squad this season in his first year as head coach after spending the past three seasons as an assistant. Moore returns 23 athletes from the 2006 team, which finished fifth at the Mid-Con outdoor meet and sixth at the indoor meet. 13 newcomers round out the squad, which has been projected to finish fifth at the 2007 Mid-Con Indoor Championships.
Bartholomew became the first Crusader to earn Athlete of the Year honors at a Mid-Con meet after capturing two individual event titles. He won the gold in the hammer throw with a school-record toss of 189'7", and followed with a winning effort of 170'4" in the discus, also a Valpo record. Both marks also surpassed NCAA regional qualifying standards.
Bartholomew also enjoyed a stellar indoor campaign, earning All Mid-Con honors after placing third in the weight throw with a toss of 53'7", third-best in school history. Joining him in the throws this year will be fellow returnees Eric Smith, who placed fifth in the discus at last year's outdoor championships, Eric Street and Kristopher Schmautz. Schmautz returned to competition for Valpo last year and holds the mark for the best javelin throw in school history under the modern rules. Two newcomers, Alex Johnson and Christopher Stohs, brother of former Crusader Matt, will bring depth to the throws for Valpo.
Three Crusaders return in the jumps for Valpo this season, including two pole vaulters. Philip Lohrmann improved throughout his first season donning the Brown and Gold, capping the campaign by clearing 13'7 1/4" at the outdoor championships, tying the third-best effort by a Crusader all-time in the event. Caleb Meyer also got a year of experience under his belt in the event. Tom Heun returns for his sophomore season after leading the Crusaders in the long jump and triple jump as a freshman.
Heun also led the Crusaders in the hurdles and sprints last year, and will look to improve on his times in the events this season. Also returning in the sprints are Brian Babczak and Dustin Lawrence, while Lawrence will also contribute in the hurdles. Four newcomers will contribute to the Crusaders' sprint lineup, and two of them will look to help with the hurdles as well.
Valparaiso's 20-man cross-country squad matched its best finish in Mid-Con history this fall, coming home fourth at the conference championships. All 20 runners will take to the track in distance events for Valpo as well, with 13 of them having run last year for the Crusaders. Among the leaders during last year's track season were Michael Brouch, Rich Krupar III, Jordan Stanfill and Jim Turchyn. Newcomer Chris Honig paced the cross country team throughout its 2006 campaign and will look to do the same on the track for the Crusaders.
Valpo kicks off the indoor season with a meet December 9 at Illinois State, and follows with over a month off for the holidays before returning to the track at the Chicagoland Invitational January 20. The Crusaders will follow with three meets in a four-week span before competing at the Mid-Con Indoor Championships in Bloomington, Ill. on February 24-25.
The Crusaders' outdoor season begins April 7 at the Indiana Relays in Bloomington, Ind. Valpo will run three of the next four weeks, including taking part in future Horizon League foe Butler's Twilight meet, before heading to Kansas City, Mo. for the Mid-Con Outdoor Championships May 11-13. The NCAA Regional meet will be held May 25-26 in Columbia, Mo.
Valparaiso's contingent in the field events returns strong this year for one final run at its Mid-Con competitors. If the cross country runners can continue their improvement in the distance events throughout the track season, and the sprinters step up as well, the Crusaders will be poised for a stellar showing in 2007.