Valparaiso University Sports Update, November 14, 2016

VU-Swim-Teams-Continue-Season-Against-WIU-SundaySwim Teams Continue Season Against WIU Sunday
The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s swim teams continued their respective 2015-16 seasons, swimming against the Fighting Leathernecks of Western Illinois on Sunday afternoon at the ARC. The men fell to WIU, 162-106, and the women suffered a 174-91 defeat.

How It Happened

  • On the men’s side, freshman Dylan Ogle (Simpsonville, S.C./Mauldin) earned first in the 200-yard butterfly (1:58.37) and added a second-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley (2:02.84) to his list of feats for the day, just missing out on the top-ten for this event.
  • Sophomore Robert Bretl (Wauwatosa, Wis./Marquette University H.S) earned the Crusaders’ second first-place finish of the day in the 500-yard freestyle event. The distance swimmer hit the wall at 5:00.00 flat to earn nine points for Valpo. Sophomore Dylan Kirar (Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley) received second place in the event as well, just missing his teammate’s mark with a time of 5:00.87.
  • Three other Valpo swimmers earned individual second-place finishes: junior Max Penn (Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles Prep.) in the 100-yard backstroke (55.82), freshman Harrison Jenny (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany) in the 50-yard freestyle (22.82) and freshman Peyton Stambeck (Bartlesville, Okla./Bartlesville) in the 100-yard freestyle (48.59). Along with the individual swims, the trio were all part of a second-place result in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:29.48), with help from sophomore Mac Sogandares (Reston, Va./South Lakes).
  • For the women, freshman Paige Wright (Surprise, Ariz./Paradise Honor) entered the Crusaders’ all-time top-10 in the 100 backstroke, touching the wall in 1:00.51 to win the event and move into sixth place in program history. Wright also earned a second-place finish in the 100 free with a time of 53.58. Adding to her list of accolades for the Crusaders, senior Rachel Law (Wayne, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) tallied two first-place finishes, both happening in freestyle events. She swam a 5:30.28 in the 500 and an 11:14.01 in the 1,000 event.
  • Freshman Erica Martins (Hartland, Wis./Lake County Lutheran) had a successful day in the water, earning first and second-place individual finishes and two second-place results in relay events. First-place came in the 100-yard butterfly (1:02.84) and second happened in the 200-yard butterfly (2:21.00). The trio of senior Emily Trimpe (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine), freshman Tara Lawson (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein) and Wright helped Martins receive a second-place notch in the 200-yard medley relay (1:54.35). The next second-place performance came from the 200-yard freestyle relay, Martins, Trimpe, Wright and junior Amanda Jenny (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany) swam a 1:42.38.

Next Up
The Crusaders continue their homestand this Friday, Nov. 18, against Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The meet will begin at 5 p.m. at the ARC Pool.

Valpo Concludes Warhawk Classic Sunday
The #21 Valparaiso University bowling team finished out action at the Warhawk Classic in Kenosha, Wis. on Sunday, closing the tournament in 12th place.

How It Happened

  • Valpo began bracket play, conducted in the best-of-seven baker format, against #15 St. Francis (Pa.). The Crusaders rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to even the match at two games apiece, but St. Francis broke 200 in each of the final two games to earn the win.
  • The Crusaders rebounded for a win in their second match of the day, defeating #RV Lincoln Memorial 4-1 by winning each of the final four games after dropping the opener.
  • A rematch with St. Francis was on the docket for the finale, but after winning the opening game, the Crusaders fell in each of the next four to close the tournament.

Next Up
The Crusaders (20-15) will return to competition in three weekends as they travel to Kenner, La. to bowl at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Bowling Invitational. The three-day tournament begins on Friday, Dec. 2.

Franklin Turns in Program’s Best Individual Scoring Performance since 1992 in Loss at Stetson
Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) had a fair share of memorable games during her first two seasons in a Valpo uniform. But the now junior reached a previously uncharted threshold in the Crusaders’ 87-75 season-opening loss at Stetson.

Franklin poured in a career-high 34 points in her first game as a full-time starter, serving as one of numerous bright spots in a loss to a quality team that has won 20 or more games in each of the last six seasons. The 34 points marked the fifth-best single-game performance in Valpo history and the best since 1992.

How It Happened

  • Just 10 seconds into the game, Stetson grabbed the lead on a layup by JUCO transfer Brittney Chambers. That established the tone for a strong start from the Hatters, who sprinted out to a 20-8 lead in the first six minutes. ASUN Preseason Player of the Year Brianti Saunders knocked down three early triples to help the Hatters establish the 12-point edge.
  • The Crusaders bounced back with an 11-0 run to trim the lead to 20-19 at the 8:36 mark of the first quarter. Franklin scored all 11 points during the push.
  • Then the Crusaders went 4:27 without scoring and missed all nine field-goal attempts during that stretch. However, the Hatters scored just four points during the Valpo scoring drought.
  • Valpo captured its first lead of the game with 2:56 left in the second quarter when Franklin swished a 3-pointer to put the Crusaders up 27-26. At halftime, Valpo trailed 33-31.
  • The Crusaders started slow in the second half. They were plagued by a four-minute scoring drought early in the third. Overall, the Hatters outscored the Crusaders 28-19 in the third quarter.
  • Valpo scored the first seven points of the fourth to make it a four-point game with 8:15 remaining. They whittled the lead to two at the 6:46 mark, but would get no closer.
  • Franklin and Amber Lindfors both battled late foul trouble and finished with four apiece.
  • The Hatters pulled down 22 offensive rebounds against Valpo’s 21 defensive rebounds. Overall, Stetson outrebounded the Crusaders 45-30.
  • The Crusaders made 20 turnovers leading to 28 Stetson points.

Inside the Game

  • The Crusaders rolled out two new assistant coaches, five new players and one new season on Saturday, but it was a familiar face who took center stage. Franklin finished the first half with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. She knocked down four 3-pointers before halftime.
  • Franklin bested her previous career high by nine points. She finished 12-of-19 and went 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Before Saturday, the highest scoring output of her career was 25 points, set on Dec. 30, 2014 against Purdue Calumet and matched on Feb. 11, 2016 against Oakland.
  • Franklin turned in the highest point total by any Crusader since Feb. 18, 1992, when Debbie Bolen scored 38 points at Northern Illinois.
  • Franklin becomes the third player in Valpo history to score 34 points or more in a single game, joining Bolen and Stephanie Greer, who set the program record with 39 in 1990. Bolen reached the 35-point mark in single games on three separate occasions.
  • The 12 made field goals and five made 3-pointers also marked new career watermarks for Franklin. Her .714 single-game 3-point percentage tied for 10th in program history.
  • Franklin wasn’t the only junior to shine on Saturday, as classmate Georgi Donchetz (Savange, Minn. / Burnsville) dished out a career-high seven assists. After playing no more than nine minutes in any one game a year ago, Donchetz played 22 minutes off the bench.
  • Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) reached double figures with 12 points, while freshman Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) chipped in nine in her regular season Valpo debut. This marks the third straight season a Valpo freshman has scored nine points or more on opening night, as Hamlet did so a year ago and Franklin did the same in 2014.
  • Stetson’s Brittney Chambers and Brianti Saunders scored 20 points apiece. Sarah Sagerer tied a single-game school record with eight blocked shots.

Next Up
The Crusaders (0-1) travel to Chicago State (0-1) to battle the Cougars on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. Links to audio and live stats will be available on

Crusaders Fall in Regular Season Finale
The Valparaiso University volleyball team closed out the regular season Saturday evening in Milwaukee, Wis., falling to the Panthers of Milwaukee in straight sets (25-11, 25-16, 25-23). The Crusaders had already clinched a berth into the Horizon League Championship by virtue of Friday night’s results and will head to the league tournament next weekend in Cleveland as the sixth seed.

How It Happened

  • Valpo trailed from the outset in the opening set, as Milwaukee started the match on a 9-2 run. Then, in the second set, the Crusaders led briefly early, but at 5-4, the Panthers went on an 11-2 run to take control.
  • The third set proved to be the tightest of the set, but it didn’t appear that way early, as the Panthers hit the halfway mark of the frame leading 13-6.
  • Valpo responded with a big 10-1 run to pull ahead, 16-14. Senior Lexie Bouza (Elgin, Ill./Burlington Central) had a pair of service aces and a kill during the run, while fellow senior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) had two kills during the spurt as well.
  • Milwaukee answered with three straight points, however, and while the Crusaders evened the score three more times, they were never able to re-claim the outright advantage. Tied at 22-22, the Panthers scored three of the final four points of the match to close out the sweep.

Inside the Match

  • The Crusaders were limited offensively by the Panthers’ defensive performance, as Milwaukee totaled 13 blocks. Valpo posted just 25 kills over the three sets against 24 attack errors.
  • Campbell led the Crusaders on Saturday with nine kills. With her final kill of the match, Campbell tallied her 1,404th career kill – moving her into a tie with Cheri Hughes for fourth-most in Valpo history.
  • Bouza tallied a team-high 10 assists to go with seven digs and three aces.
  • Senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) racked up 24 digs in Saturday’s three sets and now has 649 digs on the year – just 26 shy of sixth-most in a single season in program history.
  • Sophomore Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) led the Crusaders on Saturday with five blocks.

Next Up
The Crusaders (15-18, 6-10 Horizon) will head to Cleveland next weekend as the sixth seed for the Horizon League Championship and will face third-seeded Northern Kentucky in first-round action on Friday.

Valpo Continues Action In Kenosha Saturday
The #21 Valparaiso University bowling team posted a 3-2 record on the second day of competition, including a win over host #9 UW-Whitewater, on Saturday at the Warhawk Classic in Kenosha, Wis.

How It Happened

  • Valpo opened the day, contested in the traditional team format, against #25 Elmhurst and came away with a narrow 871-852 victory. Fifth-year senior Olivia Wirtz (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek [Vanderbilt]) led the way for the Crusaders in the opener with a game of 212.
  • The Crusaders made it two straight wins to open the day with an 869-807 win versus Aurora. Wirtz again paced Valpo, this time with a 199 effort, while freshman Rebecca Lohse (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) and senior Lauren Wolski (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) posted scores of 193 and 190, respectively, as well.
  • Wirtz would again lead the way for the Crusaders as they took down the Warhawks in the third match of the day, rolling a game of 224 as Valpo earned the 883-865 win over the tournament hosts.
  • The final two matches of the day would not be as kind to the Crusaders, as they dropped contests to #10 Fairleigh Dickinson (1032-874) and #15 St. Francis (Pa.) (964-862).
  • Wirtz closed the day strong as ever, rolling games of 215 and 224 in the final two contests. Her average of 214.8 over the day’s five matches ranked 11th in the tournament field.
  • The Crusaders ended the day with a total pinfall of 8,683 pins through the first two days of competition, good for 12th place in the 17-team field.

Thoughts From Head Coach Shon Washington
“We missed out on some opportunities again today to make a statement against some of the higher-ranked teams in the country. We have the skill, just not always the focus. We will need to find ways to keep ourselves mentally sharp throughout the day as the season progresses if we are going to achieve our team goals.”

Next Up
The Crusaders (19-13) close out action in Kenosha on Sunday with bracket play. Valpo is matched up with St. Francis (Pa.) in the first match of the bracket and can finish as high as ninth place.

Crusaders Fend Off Dolphins, Send Seniors Out in Style
The Valparaiso University football team finished a year of improvement with the largest improvement yet on Senior Day at Brown Field on Saturday. The Crusaders sprinted out to a 28-3 lead after one quarter and held on for a 42-39 victory over Jacksonville. The victory marked a significant step forward for the Crusaders, who lost to the Dolphins by 45 points last season. Valpo finished the year with its highest league win total since 2003.

How It Happened

  • The Crusaders grabbed the lead just 10 seconds into the game, when freshman Bailey Gessinger (Goshen, Ind. / Northwood) established the tone by exploding for an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put Valpo in front 7-0.
  • The Crusaders continued the stellar start when they forced a fumble by quarterback Rylan Wells on Jacksonville’s first series. The fumble was recovered by Joey Diaz-Martinez (Miramar, Fla. / Miramer) at the Jacksonville 28.
  • The Crusaders took full advantage of the favorable field position, as freshman quarterback Jimmy Seewald (Livonia, Mich. / Divine Child) plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard TD to complete the scoring drive.
  • Jacksonville’s second drive also resulted in a turnover. Diaz-Martinez intercepted a Wells pass at the Valpo 47 to extend Valpo’s early success.
  • Once again, the Valpo offense fully capitalized on the turnover. The Crusaders cashed in with a 9-play, 53-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by freshman Cody Boxrucker (West Chester, Ohio / Badin). Valpo led 21-0 with 6:39 remaining in the first quarter.
  • The defense stood tall as Jacksonville drove inside the 5-yard line, but settled for a 23-yard field goal to get on the board.
  • Junior Frank Catrine (Springboro, Ohio / Bishop Fenwick) took a direct snap on a trick play and took off for a 72-yard TD run after faking a handoff to Jarrett Morgan (Cooper City, Fla. / Cooper City). That score boosted Valpo’s lead to 28-3 with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
  • The Dolphins reached the end zone twice in the second quarter, scoring on runs by Ulysses Bryant (16 yards) and Wells (14 yards).
  • Valpo added a TD on a 55-yard grab by Morgan on a pass from Seewald. That score came with 6:31 left in the first half and was sandwiched between two Jacksonville TDs.
  • Jacksonville struck on the first drive of the second half, trimming the Valpo lead to 35-24 on a 16-yard TD run by Wells.
  • Valpo answered with a 5-yard TD pass from Seewald to Morgan late in the third quarter.
  • The Dolphins pulled within 10 by virtue of Will Montgomery’s 3-yard TD run and a successful two-point conversion with 8:55 left in regulation.
  • The Crusader defense came up with a key stop when Jacksonville turned it over on downs after going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Valpo 9. The Dolphins passed up the option of attempting a short field goal to cut the lead to one possession.
  • Jacksonville cut the lead to three with a 23-yard TD catch by Brian Burnett on a pass from Wells.
  • Catrine came up with a key onside kick recovery, then the Crusaders ran out the clock. On fourth down Seewald allowed time to expire by spring the opposite way down field and taking a 47-yard loss.

Inside the Game

  • Valpo’s 28 points in the first quarter was its most in a single quarter since Oct. 13, 2007 against Butler, when the Crusaders scored 28 in the fourth. The Crusaders hadn’t scored 28 points in the opening quarter at least 15 years before Saturday.
  • The Crusaders scored more points in the first quarter than they did in the entirety of any other PFL game this season.
  • The kickoff return for a touchdown was Gessinger’s second of the season, his first coming at Morehead State on Oct. 1.
  • The Crusaders recovered five opponent fumbles this season and lost just one fumble all year.
  • Diaz-Martinez’s interception was his fifth of the season, while the fumble recovery was his second. He has eight interceptions in the first two years of his Valpo career.
  • Boxrucker’s TD run was his seventh of the season.
  • Catrine’s score was his first rushing TD since Oct. 11, 2014 against Missouri Baptist and the second of his career.
  • Morgan hauled in his second TD pass and notched his fourth total score of the year.
  • Valpo finished the season with four wins, matching their win total from Dave Cecchini’s first season in 2014 and equaling the program’s winningest season since 2000. The Crusaders’ three league wins marks their highest Pioneer Football League total since 2003.
  • Jacksonville entered Saturday’s game 3-0 in PFL road games this season.
  • Seewald went 18-for-24 and passed for 202 yards. Catrine had four carries for 114 rushing yards and chipped in six catches for 52 yards. Jarrett Morgan made seven grabs for 99 yards.
  • Jalin LeAndre (Hollywood, Fla. / Hallandale) was Valpo’s leading tackler for the first time this year. He made eight stops.
  • The Crusaders won the game despite being outrushed 329-165 and outgained 551-367.

Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Cecchini

  • On the win: “Our kids came through when it counted. They made plays and did a great job running out the clock. They earned every second of this one.”
  • On the opening kickoff return: “It was great and we needed it. It started with the huge kickoff return. I’m so proud of Bailey Gessinger and what he’s been able to provide. We needed Jarrett Morgan so much on offense and to be able to put another guy out there who can provide good kickoff returns all year is a Godsend.”
  • On the offensive strategy: “This is the type of defense where they weren’t bend but don’t break. They get up in your face, but if you break through, you’re looking at 15-yard runs instead of 5-yard runs. We had some big plays. Frank Catrine came up huge in the running game. I give our kids credit for the way they went out and executed.
  • On using the wildcat: “It’s always been a part of our package. Some weeks we use it, some weeks we don’t. Not having a real run threat with Jimmy Seewald, you need to have that against a team like this. You know they’re already playing a run-stopping defense. If you put a receiver or running back at quarterback, there’s nothing they can do that they’re not already doing. They can’t play the run any more than they already are. Once you break through the line of scrimmage, there’s nobody there.”
  • On whether or not redshirt juniors will return: “When you have the degree from Valpo, it’s hard to keep guys here for that fifth year. We’re waiting to hear on J.J. Nunes’ fifth-year petition from the NCAA. Jay Slone is looking into coming back, and it would be great to have him for another year.”
  • On the future: “We are really, really excited about the talent that we have coming back. We felt like we went out and competed against just about everybody in the PFL. We feel like this program is going to challenge for a league championship sometime in the very near future.”

Bowling Returns to Action Friday at Warhawk Classic
After a weekend away from competition on the lanes, the #21 Valparaiso University bowling team returned to action Friday on the first of three days of the Warhawk Classic in Kenosha, Wis.

How It Happened

  • Valpo opened the tournament against #RV Lincoln Memorial and earned a 793-701 victory in the first of five sets of five-game baker matches.
  • The Crusaders struggled to find wins the rest of the way, however, as they finished the day 1-4. Following its opening win, Valpo fell to #1 Nebraska (1002-810), #14 Sacred Heart (1013-862) and #19 Adelphi (964-878).
  • The Crusaders enjoyed their strongest match of the day in the finale, nearly averaging a 200 in the final set of five games, but it would not be enough to defeat #13 LIU Brooklyn, as Valpo dropped a 1007-981 decision.
  • Valpo finished the day with a pinfall of 4,324 pins through five matches, good for 12th place in the 17-team field.

Next Up
The Crusaders (16-11) return to action on Saturday with the second day of competition, which will be contested in the traditional team format.

Crusader Cross Country Squads Close Season at NCAA Regional
The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s cross country teams finished their respective seasons Friday as they competed in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship, held in Madison, Wis. The men’s squad placed 29th in the 10K and the women finished 31st in the 6K at the Championships.

How It Happened

  • On the men’s side, senior Max Morello (Plano, Ill./Plano) paced the Crusaders with a 141st-place finish with a time of 33:28.9, clipping nearly a minute off his finish from last year’s race and finishing 22 positions higher.
  • Sophomore Ben Zibricky (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln Way Central) made large strides from a year ago, shaving over four minutes off his time as he placed 153rd with a time of 33:46.6.
  • The Bruno brothers, sophomore Alexander (Bloomington, Ill./University) and senior Adam (Bloomington, Ill./University) finished within two seconds of one another. Alexander finished in 167th place (34:02.8), while Adam finished 169th (34:04.7). Adam erased 43 seconds from his time last year at regionals.
  • Senior Dan Walters (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) finished 179th (35:25.1) to round out Valpo’s top-five runners. Freshmen Victor Fortin (East Peoria, Ill./Peoria Notre Dame) and Elliot Hanke (Bridgman, Mich./Bridgman) finished 185th (34:41.4) and 193rd (35:32.8) to end their rookie campaigns.
  • For the women, senior Liz Owen (Freedom, Wis./Freedom) led Valpo for the second consecutive season at the regional meet. The Crusader veteran finished in 157th place, with a time of 22:52.8.
  • Running a time 48 seconds quicker than her 2015 mark, junior Kim Heiny (Burnettsville, Ind./Twin Lakes) crossed the finish in 178th (23:17.9). Senior Tori Tamburrino (West Dundee, Ill./Jacobs) ran a 24:25.7 6K to help her finish 201st to end the race for Valpo upperclassmen.
  • The group of freshmen runners Kate Mitchell (Algonquin, Ill./Huntley), Nicole Berneche (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West), Celia McGhiey (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) and Kyla Ohst (Naperville, Ill./Metea Valley) rounded out the race for Valparaiso. Mitchel lead the rookies with a mark of 24:34.2 (204th), followed by Berneche’s finish at 214th place (25:31.4) and McGhiey crossed the finish line a place behind her teammate with a time of 25:38.2 (215th). Ohst came in two spots behind McGhiey and earned 217th place (25:48.3).

Carlson, Bruinsma Earn Academic All-League Honors
The Valparaiso University volleyball team had a pair of players honored as the Horizon League announced its volleyball Academic All-League recipients on Friday, as senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) and sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) earned the award for their performance on the court and in the classroom.

The Horizon League recognizes student-athletes with Academic All-League Teams in each of its 19 championship sports. To be eligible for Academic All-Horizon League consideration, a student-athlete must have a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.20 or higher (based on a 4.00 scale) and have completed at least one year at the member institution, having earned 24 semester-hour or 36 quarter-hour credits.

Bruinsma and Carlson are the sixth and seventh Valpo student-athletes to earn Academic All-League recognition this fall, joining a pair of women’s soccer players and one student-athlete apiece from men’s cross country, women’s cross country and men’s soccer.

Rachel Bruinsma (Sr.) – Is currently tied for team-high honors with 94 blocks on the season. Ranks second on the team in blocks/set and in service aces. Has tallied five or more blocks on seven occasions, including a career-best nine blocks earlier this season against Milwaukee. Owns a 3.754 cumulative GPA as a biology major and has been a member of the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll each semester eligible.

Katherine Carlson (So.) – Ranks second on team in both total kills (336) and digs (298). Also leads the Crusaders with 37 service aces, ranking seventh in the Horizon League in aces/set. Has registered 10 double-doubles on the season, including a pair of triple-doubles in the last three weeks. Set new career highs in a triple-double performance against Wright State with 22 kills and 28 digs. Owns a 3.867 cumulative GPA as a business management major.