Mike Straubel completed his 33rd season leading the Valpo men's and women's cross country teams in 2019. Straubel is also an assistant coach on the track and field staff, working with Valpo distance runners.
A long-time fixture at Valparaiso University, Straubel started teaching on campus since 1985 and became the head coach of the cross country program in 1987.
Most recently, Straubel coached Alexander Bruno to one of the most accomplished indoor track seasons in the school’s history. Straubel traveled with the distance runners to the University of Boston on Feb. 15 where Bruno — one of the best runners in Valpo’s history — bested his own program record in the mile. Also at the meet, Bruno ran the program’s second-fastest time in the 3000-meter run. Bruno would go on to capture Valpo’s first MVC title in the mile. Entering the 2020 season, Valpo’s program record in the 5000-meter run had stood for 20 years. In the span of two meets, Dominic Paoletti and Jack Worman each broke that record. Bruno, Worman and Paoletti each also entered the record book in the 3000-meter run.
Straubel’s cross country teams also saw great success in 2019 as the men’s squad cracked the regional rankings for the first time. The men’s cross country team garnered a top-5 finish at the MVC Championship, the program’s first top-5 finish at a conference meet since 2007. During the meet, Bruno earned all-conference honors by virtue of his eighth-place finish, while Paoletti finished 13th, giving him an all-conference honorable mention.
During the 2018 cross country season, Bruno shattered a school record in the 8K that had stood for 17 years while also outdoing a 17-year-old mark in the 10K. In addition, Bruno broke a 40-year-old record in the indoor mile during the 2018 track and field season. Bruno placed seventh in the 2018 MVC Cross Country Championships, earning a spot on the All-MVC First Team.
Straubel has aided the development of a number of standout individuals during his time with the cross country program including the careers of Laura Rolf and Collette Liss. Rolf holds the Valpo records in both the 5K and the 6K and was twice the Horizon League champion (2007, 2008), as well as twice the league’s cross country Athlete of the Year. A four-time All-Great Lakes Region honoree, she was also four times a First Team All-Conference honoree.
Liss claimed the Mid-Continent Conference individual championship in 1996 and was named the conference’s Runner of the Year that year as well. A two-time All-Great Lakes Region selection, she claimed the Indiana state championship in 1996 as well.
More recently, he coached Liz (Bloy) Owen as she twice was named an All-Horizon League honoree, including a First Team recipient in 2014. Under his tutelage, Jessica Richardson was a three-time First Team All-Horizon League award winner (2012-2014) and finished her career second in program history in both the 5K and 6K.
On the men’s side, Straubel guided one of the best runner in program history in Aaron Crague. Crague held school records in both the 8K and 10K until those were shattered by another Straubel pupil (Alexander Bruno) in 2018. Craig earned First Team All Mid-Continent Conference accolades three times (1999-2001). He was also an Indiana All-State selection in 2000.
All told, the aforementioned group claimed 14 individual conference titles on the track and earned three Outstanding Running Performer of the Championship honors. Both Liss and Rolf earned All-American accolades as well – Liss indoors in the 3K in 1997, and Rolf indoors in the mile in 2007 – while Liss was also a national qualifier outdoors in the 5K in 1997.
The Valpo mentor has seen his cross country runners total 47 All-League awards, 10 All-Indiana honors, six All-Region commendations, three Runner of the Year awards and two Newcomer of the Year awards. Straubel has also coached two Indiana State Champions. Crague, Liss and Rolf have also all been inducted into the Valpo Athletics Hall of Fame as well.
A full-time professor in Valpo's Law School, Straubel took three students from his Valparaiso Sports Law Clinic to Torino, Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. In Torino, Straubel and his staff provided free advice to any athletes in need of some type of legal support.
An avid runner, Straubel ran collegiately at both Marquette University and McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. While in Canada, he was a member of Quebec's national championship qualifying 4x800 relay team which won a Provincial Championship.
Straubel became a Masters All-American in the mile in 1998 and in the 3,000m in 2000. In 1991, he took third place in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Track Athletics Congress (TAC) National Masters Championships.
Straubel earned his bachelor's degree in 1979 from Western Michigan, picked up his J.D. from the Marquette Law School in 1982 and earned a LL.M. degree from McGill in 1987.