Mike Straubel announced today the year-end awards for the Valparaiso men’s and women’s cross country teams, highlighted by the honoring of the squads’ Most Valuable Runners from the 2011 campaign: senior Nick Fagan (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) and freshman Jessica Richardson (Columbus, Ind./North).
Fagan, who also served as team captain in his final season as a Crusader, contributed to Valpo’s team score in five of his six races and led the Brown and Gold on two occasions. Fagan ran a season-best 8K time of 26:46.16 at the Navy Invitational to pace the Crusaders in that race, and also led the Valpo contingent at the Horizon League Championship. He also was the second-fastest Valpo runner at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Richardson stood out in her first year at Valpo, placing among the Crusaders’ top-two runners in all six races as a freshman. She kicked off her career with a pair of top-15 showings at the Crusader Open and the Navy Invitational, and ran a season-best 5K of 18:34.74 at the Evansville Invitational to earn a ninth-place finish. Richardson also placed second among Valpo runners at the Horizon League Championship and the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Other awards included the Most Improved Award, presented to men’s sophomore Kiefer Heiman (Nashville, Ill./Nashville) and women’s sophomore Nicole Zehel (Wixom, Mich./Lutheran Westland). The Coach’s Award was given to seniors Mack Morris (Eden Prairie, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s) and Derek Schnake (Chicago, Ill./Lincoln Park) on the men’s side and sophomore Grace Shemwell (Clinton, Iowa/Clinton) on the women’s side. Junior Haley Kerlin (Rensselaer, Ind./Rensselaer) served as the women’s team captain in 2011.