Vincennes, IN – Former Interim Head Cross Country Coach Blake Albrecht has been named the permanent, Head Cross Country Coach, as well as Co-Head Coach for the Track & Field season after guiding the Trailblazers to a historic season on the grass this fall.
Albrecht was named the Interim Head Coach this fall after long-time-great Head Coach Chris Gafner retired.
Albrecht, formerly a graduate of Franklin College where he studied Secondary Education and History, was also a 4-year varsity letter earner in cross-country and track, multiple time All-HCAC Conference selection, and is one of the program’s all-time best long-distance athletes.
Albrecht led the cross-country team to a pair of top-5 finishes at the Walt Crawford Open hosted at Eastern Illinois, including having 4 athletes finish in the top-25 individually in a tough, primarily, Division I field.
The team then traveled to the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships where Sophomore Anais Da Silva became the first-ever VU athlete to win the Little State Division, and Freshman Marcus Graham notched an 18th place overall finish, one of the best in school history.
The team rode that momentum into the Greater Louisville Classic where Da Silva again dominated the field, becoming the first VU athlete to win the Greater Louisville Classic, and pacing the team to a 6th place finish, the best in school history. The men did not disappoint either. Graham and Sophomore Evan Franklin finished 6th & 7th respectively to lead the team to a runner-up finish, again, the best in program history at the Greater Louisville Classic.
Next, the team took to Angel Mounds Cross Country course at the University of Evansville Invite where the women’s team had 3 athletes finish in the top-10, and recorded a runner-up team finish. The men had 7 athletes finish in the top-25, and captured the small school title.
The teams used these performances to march into the NJCAA Region XII championships both ranked #7 in the NJCAA. The men would pack together and run a spectacular race, capturing the 2nd consecutive Region XII title. Evan Franklin became the first-ever Vincennes University athlete to win consecutive NJCAA Region XII individual titles, and the entire top-5 for the Trailblazers captured All-Region Honors finishing: 1st, 3rd, 8th, 11th, and 13th. The women would have a historic day themselves at the Region XII Championships. Da Silva captured the individual title by nearly 30 seconds, Sophomores Maisie Lay and Sydney Davidson both finished 3rd & 7th respectively to join Da Silva in earning All-Region Honors. The team would also upset #5 ranked Lansing Community College to win the program’s first-ever NJCAA Region XII Title. Also, 8 athletes earning All-Region Honors was the most in program history.
Both team catapulted to #5 in the NJCAA heading into the NJCAA Cross Country National Championships where both teams would record 9th place finishes, the best in school history for the women, and the best for them in nearly 50 years! Sophomore Evan Franklin nearly missed the school record by racing his way to a 6th place finish in a time of 25:11; however, that was the fastest time by a Trailblazer at the national meet, and the highest ever finish by a male athlete at the national meet. Da Silva also rebounded from a fall early in the race to finish 6th, and broke her own Vincennes University school record in the process.
Franklin, Da Silva, Lay, and Sophomore Wendy Catalan would continue on to earn All-American Honors in the Half-Marathon in the final week of the season at the NJCAA Half-Marathon in Topeka, Kansas.
Albrecht said on being named head coach and the program’s success this season, “I am proud to be able to represent Vincennes University, and I am humbled to be able to coach such a fantastic, driven group of young men and women. I couldn’t have done any of this without them, or the exceptional members of my staff. I also would like to thank Chris Gafner for everything that he has done for me. I am truly blessed and excited to continue the legacy that he has started here. There isn’t another coach in the profession whom I respect more than him, and to be able to take the lessons he taught me, and apply them at VU, is truly a dream come true.”
Albrecht was also named the NJCAA Region XII Coach of the year for both the men and the women, and was named the Great Lakes Region Coach of the year as well for the team’s performances.