Valpo Track and Field Indoor Championships Preview
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Valpo Track and Field Indoor Championships Preview
Sierra Fischer leads leads her squad in the 200-meter (25.44) and 400-meter dash (56.73) this season.

The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa to begin competition in the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships, hosted by the University of Northern Iowa, starting on Saturday, Feb. 29 and finishing on Sunday, March 1. There will be live coverage both days on ESPN3 with Brad Wells (play-by-play), Mike Mahon (analyst) and Kelly Burke (distance analyst/track reporter).

  • In the 2019 Outdoor Championships, then-junior Jake Rasawehr (Celina, Ohio/ Celina) became the first Valpo track-and-field athlete to earn all-conference honors in the MVC when he finished third in the discus. Valpo will look to add to that list this weekend.
  • Alexander Bruno (Bloomington, Ill./ University) looks to end his final indoor season in style. Bruno ranks third in the MVC in the mile (4:05.75), fourth in the 800-meter run (1:52.93) and fifth in the 3000-meter run (8:20.01). Bruno will not enter into the 800 and will instead focus on the mile and the 3000 for the championships, with aspirations of earning a conference championship.

“That’s where Bruno is most comfortable,” head coach Ryan Moore said. “It’s good to see him healthy again and firing on all cylinders.”

  • Sierra Fischer (Brookfield, Wis./ Brookfield [Carroll]) has enjoyed similar success for the women’s team, as she leads her squad in the 200-meter (25.44) and 400-meter dash (56.73). In fact, her 400-meter time is the fastest ever for a Valpo female, and her 200 time is second-best (she also earned Valpo’s top time in the 600-meter run, which is not a championship event). Fischer has the fourth-fastest 400 time in the MVC and is only six one-hundredths of a second away from the Top 3. Expect to see Fischer in the 400-meter dash, the 4x-400-meter relay and the distance medley relay.

“We have a guy in Bruno who can be a conference champion, and we have that on the women’s team in Sierra,” Moore said. “At the end of the day, I want to see everyone out there running their best at this point in the season.”

  • Emanuel Daggett (Chicago, Ill./ Gavit) heads into championship weekend leading the team in three sprints: the 60-meter (7.21), 200-meter (22.58) and the 400-meter dash (49.22), the latter two being top-5 times in Valpo history. Not only does he lead the team in these events, he has the eighth-best 400 time in The Valley. Ben Sekuloski (Lowell, Ind./ Lowell) is 11th in the MVC at 49.36. These two runners will look to lead Valpo in the 400.
  • Jack Worman (Hanover Parks, Ill./ Hoffman Estates) and Dominic Paoletti (Monroe, Mich./ Monroe St. Mary) will compete in the 3000-meter run alongside Bruno, as well as in the 5000-meter run, in which they rank sixth (14:43.69) and ninth (14:51.03) in the MVC, respectively. In addition, Worman owns Valpo’s all-time record for the indoor 5000, while Paoletti is a close second.

“Alexander [Bruno], Dominic [Paoletti] and and Jack [Worman] have been our top three distance runners this year,” distance coach Mike Straubel said. “The hope is to pick up a few top-3 finishes among them. I also think our distant medley squads can push each other collectively and race well as a team.”

  • Other top-10 marks in the conference include TJ Weinzimmer (Northbrook, Ill./ Glenbrook North) in the triple jump (45-9; 13.94m), as well as Eddie Juszczak (Lowell, Ind./ Lowell) and his 56-7¼ (17.25m) weight throw. Zack Fortener (Byron, Ill./ Byron) is set to become Valpo’s first conference championship heptathlete since Connor Hickey in 2017, while Shannon Lahey (Dixon, Ill./ Dixon) will be the program’s first conference pentathlete since Carissa Heinold in 2008.

“The throwers are ready,” Moore said. “They have practiced well all year. Now they have to prove it. They have to show up, hit the big mark, get into the finals and ultimately score for the team. Right now, they are sitting just outside of the top eight, so they will have to step up. In the last couple of weeks, we have changed the training to let their body’s catch up a bit from the work they’ve put in, so they should all be ready and rested by meet time. "

Thoughts from the Coaches

“We have athletes who we know can be competitive for us,” Moore said. “I think we have a real opportunity to knock off a couple of teams and move up in the standing, especially on the men’s side.”

Moore: “What I always tell my athletes is to show me what’s in their heart. That’s what it comes down to. Leave it all out there on the track. I want to see all of our athletes being their very best at the right time and in the right meet. From the top down, from veterans and some of the conference’s best athletes to young runners looking for that next PR, just show me your best. I get the most joy from coaching when I can walk them through the good and bad and see them compete at their highest level.”

“I love the competitive atmosphere, showing up and competing well,” associate head coach James Overbo said. “We use the season as practice. I think our athletes have gotten really good at working through the regular season and showing up for the championships.”

“I’m looking for everyone to peak, to have everyone running the best they can,” Straubel said. “It can be difficult to see that in a conference meet because times are not usually as fast as in other meets. The distance races become more about tactical skill than hitting a new PR.”

“The work for the indoor season is finished,” Moore said. “Now, it’s time to go out and show it.”