The Missouri Valley Conference men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Valparaiso on Saturday for the MVC Championship. Nine men’s teams and 10 women’s teams faced chilly temperatures and a muddy course to compete for the conference title at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. The Valpo men were led by Alexander Bruno (Bloomington, Ill./ University) and Dominic Paoletti (Monroe, Mich./ Monroe St. Mary), both of whom earned all-conference recognition. As a team, the Valpo men turned in their first Top 5 finish in the team standings at a conference meet since 2007, continuing a strong season for head coach Mike Straubel’s team.
How It Happened
- Bruno led the Valpo men a time of 25:17.8. His efforts earned him an eighth-place finish, and he was the first finisher from a school not named Bradley or Northern Iowa. In addition, Bruno was named First Team All-Conference for the second consecutive year. With this feat, Bruno is now just the second runner in program history to make the All-Conference team in consecutive seasons, and the only one to do so since Valpo joined the MVC prior to the 2017 season (Aaron Crague 1999-2001, Mid-Con First Team).
- Paoletti turned in a stellar performance Saturday. The junior led all Valpo runners through the first third of the race and finished with a time of 25:29.6. He finished 13th to earn All-MVC Honorable Mention. In addition, Paoletti placed fourth among non-seniors, providing a bright outlook for next season.
- Alaina Carpenter (Grandville, Mich./ Grandville), the sophomore who had seen her times consistently decrease throughout the season, was Valpo’s lead finisher in the women’s race. She was just nine seconds behind her 5K PR in much tougher conditions, finishing at 19:19.6 and in 26th place.
- Senior Katherine Germann (Cincinnati, Ohio/ Finneytown) was the Valpo women’s second finisher. She cam across the line at 19:29.8 and in 32nd place.
- The men’s third scorer was Ignacio Veloz Bonilla (San Juan, P.R./ American Military Academy). After finishing 45th as a freshman at last year’s conference meet, Veloz Bonilla jumped up to 28th with a time of 26:06.4. His finish gave his team three finishers in the top-30. Jack Worman (Hanover Parks, Ill./ Hoffman Estates) nearly gave the Valpo men four finishers in the top-40, as his strong time of 26:37.3 gave him a 41st-place finish, seven spots better than his 2018 conference race.
- Running as a true freshman, Eric Carothers (Fishers, Ind./ Hamilton Southeastern) was Valpo’s fifth and final scorer, running a time of 27:06.9 and finishing 48th.
- Senior Taylor Justison (Catham, Ill./ Glenwood) and junior Sarah Caesar (Fox River Grove, Ill./ Cary-Grove) finished within 10 seconds (and 10 places) of one another. Justison earned a 55th-place finish with a 5K time of 20:34.1, while Caesar was 64th with a time of 20:44.4. Maranda Donahue (Delton, Mich./ Delton-Kellogg) was the women’s fifth and final scorer, coming across at 21:12 and in 68th place.
Inside the Meet
- The Valpo men earned a fifth-place finish at the meet with 134 points, edging out sixth-place Illinois State (136 points). On the women’s side, Valpo finished ninth with 234 points.
- Both the men’s and women’s squads set program-best marks for team points since Valpo joined the Valley in 2017. In addition, both of Valpo’s top duos, Bruno (8th)/Paoletti (13th) for the men and Carpenter (26th)/Germann (32nd) for the women, represented the best top-two finishers for Valpo at an MVC conference meet. Bruno and Paoletti also tied for the third-best finishing pair of the race with 21 points.
- The meets were dominated by the Bradley men and the Loyola women teams. Both squads captured their respective titles by authoring 1-2-3-4-7 finishes (17 points).
- Valpo’s last Top-5 finish in a conference meet was also the last time it hosted. The Brown & Gold finished fifth at the 2007 Horizon League Championship at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.
Valpo will return to action at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in Madison, Wis. on Nov. 15.