Men's college golf

Willis paces VU: Freshman Garrett Willis shot a 3-over 73 to pace the Valparaiso University men’s golf team in the opening round of the Wright State Invitational on Sunday at Heatherwoode Golf Club in Springboro, Ohio.

Willis enters Day 2 tied for 20th. The Crusaders are in eighth place among 12 teams.

The teams were slated to play two rounds Sunday, but the second round was canceled due to rain. The event has been shortened to a 36-hole format with the final round being played as scheduled Monday.

College softball

Crusaders fall: Bishop Noll graduate Brittany Anderson hit a three-run home run in the third inning to stake the Valparaiso University softball team to an early lead; however, the Crusaders went on to suffer an 11-3 Missouri Valley Conference loss to Northern Iowa on Sunday in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Northern Iowa scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the game.

It was Anderson's fourth home run of the season for Valparaiso (12-22, 2-14).

Women's college tennis

Valpo tripped up: Junior Dao Sysouvanh won her No. 3 singles match to secure the Valparaiso University women's tennis team's only point in a 6-1 Missouri Valley Conference loss to Northern Iowa on Sunday in Waterloo, Iowa.

Sysouvanh defeated Harri Proudfoot 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Marathon running

Johnson driven to run different kind of race: Just because he won't be surrounded by 3,300-pound cars traveling at more than 200 mph doesn't mean Jimmie Johnson will be able to relax when he runs the Boston Marathon today.

If the seven-time NASCAR champion isn't thinking about his heart rate or his pace, he'll be concentrating on the conditions or the course or whether he is drinking enough water.

In that way, it's a lot like his regular job.

"If it's a lap time I'm trying to hit or a heart rate you're trying to hit, either way it's not comfortable," Johnson said during a break from the two-way training he has undertaken to get ready for a 26.2-mile footrace in the middle of the NASCAR season. "You're in very similar head space. It's shocking how similar it is."

An 83-time winner on the racetrack — sixth most in Cup history — Johnson has long been a fitness freak who swam in high school who has always run and cycled to stay in shape for driving. Now 43, he has a bit of a bucket list of athletics events he wants to complete; he has already knocked off a couple of mini triathlons and half marathons as well as the Assault on Mount Mitchell, a 102.7-mile cycling race with a 10,000-foot vertical climb up a North Carolina mountain that he rode with Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.

"Training is a part of every race car driver's life," said Johnson, who will wear bib No. 4848 as a nod to his No. 48 Chevrolet. "Certainly, getting ready for a marathon is more than the normal event. There's just a lot of miles required."

That was the biggest surprise, Johnson said, when he shifted his training from fitness to getting ready for a three-hour race. He has run up to 80 miles per week to get ready, though it tapered down to about 20 as he got closer to race day.

"It's not like I've not run before, but to increase the volume and the daily miles required, it's crazy what you put your body through," he said. "I'm enjoying this taper right now. But honestly, I've loved the experience and enjoyed all the pain and suffering that comes with it."

Fitting the training in with his driving has been a challenge that at times has required him to get up at 5 a.m. to run. He's used his travel schedule to his advantage, finding running paths near the track that provide the hilly terrain he needs to prepare for Boston's challenging course.

His competitors have noticed.

"Jimmie Johnson is crazy," Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon said. "He's a seven-time champion and he still tries to come out here every weekend and kick everybody's butt. He's a different animal and I respect him for that.

"He can probably do whatever he wants. I think he's a freak. He's a beast," Dillon said. "You see him out here, out running, sweating and I'm trying to stay as hydrated as I possibly can, and he's got a different process. And it obviously works for him."