Former Valparaiso runner Patrick Dalton tops assistant coach Aaron Crague
By Jeff Manes Post-Tribune correspondent July 20, 2013 11:18PM
Former Valparaiso HS Cross Country Patrick Dalton (right) and Valparaiso coach Aaron Crague finish in 1st and 2nd places with times of 28:12.7 & 28:13.1 at Buckley Homestead Park in Lowell, IN on Saturday July 20, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 22, 2013 7:05AM
LOWELL — It was a steamy summer morning at Buckley Homestead for the running of the 15th annual Buckley 5 Miler. But when race director Adam Hudak saw that Valparaiso coach Mike Prow had bussed in 27 members of his high school cross country team, he predicted there would be at least 10 runners break 30 minutes.
And as anyone who has raced the 5 Miler can tell you, averaging under six minutes per mile at Buckley is no walk in the park. When the smoke cleared, 14 athletes had accomplished the feat.
The overall winner was Patrick Dalton of Valparaiso — by an eyelash. Dalton, 18, crossed the finish line with a blistering time of 28:12.7. Finishing second overall was Aaron Crague with a scorching 28:13.1.
Dalton and the 33-year old Crague were clocked at 16:15 as they sped past the three-mile marker heading for hillier terrain.
Dalton was part of the Valparaiso cross country team’s top seven all of last year. He hopes to walk on to Purdue’s team in West Lafayette this fall.
“I really enjoyed the course,” he said. “I like how it has both road and grass. It makes for an interesting last two miles. You could easily be hurting if you went out too hard on the fast and flat road.”
As a distance runner, Crague excelled for Lake Central and then Valparaiso University. He has served under Prow as an assistant boys cross country coach for 11 years at Valparaiso. Crague held the Buckley 5 Miler course record until it was broken by Mark Rhode of Indianapolis with a 26:04 in 2008.
“Pat and I ran together the whole time,” Crague said. “He did most of the work by taking the lead. I caught him after about a mile-and-a-half into it. He got me at the very end. He’s got a little more bounce in his step than I do at my age. At this stage, it’s about the kids. I’ve had my day.”
Crague concurred with Dalton regarding the course.
“I don’t think there are too many races in Northwest Indiana with a combination of road and grass,” he said. “There are races like Sunset Hill Farm where it’s just grass. And there are races up in Highland or Hammond where it’s just road. This race makes for a challenging, unique experience.”
Five records were broken at Saturday’s race, including both the male and female Masters records (40 years and older). Dan Thomas, 42, (29:54) and Kelly Coulopoulos 43, (36.51) were the Masters. The other record times were: Aaron Crague 30-34 bracket (28:13), Rick Fenno 55-59 bracket (30:03) and Israel Toledo 65-69 bracket (37:15).