Saturday morning’s conference championship achieved good marks for Head Coach Mike Straubel as both of his teams set program-best records since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
After two long months and four races, Valpo was set to compete for a comfortable spot for the NCAA Regional race. After a cold and muddy morning, the men’s team finished in fifth place and the women’s team ended the race in ninth place.
Following an early Halloween snowstorm, the conditions of Sunset Hill Farm County Park was left with more mud than grass on the. These conditions didn’t give any advantages to anyone running as both races began with temperatures in the low 40’s.
“It was pretty rough out there at some of the points. I think the fact that we knew the course a little bit better maybe than some of the other teams did certainly helped us. They actually did a pretty good job on fixing some of the rougher spots,” said fifth year senior Alexander Bruno.
The men’s team began the morning with an eight kilometer race. The first Valpo racer to cross the finish line was Bruno in eighth place at 25:17. Junior Dominic Paoletti tailed behind him in thirteenth place with a time of 25:29.
Valpo finished in fifth place out of nine teams with 134 team points.
“As a team, we had some pretty strong performances from a lot of the guys out there. I think Dominic ran pretty well. He had another great race, he has been great all season. Eric Carothers stepped up as a freshman,” Bruno said.
The women’s team ran a five kilometer race after the men’s team. Sophomore Alaina Carpenter finished first for Valpo in 26th place, who was nine seconds behind her personal best at 19:19. 10 seconds later, senior Katherine Germann came up the rear in 32nd place.
The women’s team finished ninth with a team score of 234.
“I thought there were some pretty good individual performances out there. Especially from Alaina Carpenter, who finished first for the team. I was just really impressed with her and she has come a long way from transferring in last year during track season as a freshman,” said Bruno.
Bruno and Paoletti both earned all-conference recognition. Bruno was also named First Team All-Conference for the second consecutive year. Paoletti finishing 13th earned him All-MVC Honorable Mentions. The men’s team finished the race as a team in the top five, which hasn’t happened since 2007. Fifth place came close however, with Illinois State scoring two more points then Valpo.
Going forward from this performance, Valpo will be back in action at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in Madison, Wisconsin on November 15th. The women’s race begins at 12 p.m., followed by the men’s beginning at 1p.m.