Loyola’s men’s and women’s team came to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) championship meet at Evansville, Indiana, on Nov. 1 determined to bring home the program’s first MVC title; unfortunately, the Ramblers fell short of that goal. Loyola’s women’s team took fourth place, while the men finished in sixth place.
For the women’s cross country team, seniors Sydney Stuenkel and Ericka Laviste had a strong showing in their final MVC meet. Stuenkel finished 12th out of 79 with a season-best time in the 5K of 17:34. Laviste followed in 13th place with a new personal best of 17:36. Both received All-MVC honors.
Head coach Randy Hasenbank said the ultimate results of the meet were not what he had hoped.
“Honestly, we were disappointed on both sides,” said Hasenbank. “The injury bug bit us on the men’s side, and we lost two of our top five guys to injuries this year.”
Junior Alex Baker has been out due to an injury to his foot since the beginning of the fall season.
Although the overall showing from the men wasn’t as successful as anticipated, junior Jake Brown led the Ramblers, finishing in 13th overall out of 68 with a personal best time of 24:34 in the 8K. This finish earned him his first All-MVC honor. Not far behind him was senior teammate Mitch Baum, who also set a personal best time at 24:50 to place 21st.
However, Hasenbank said the disappointing run at conference isn’t going to discourage the team heading into the NCAA Midwest Regionals meet.
“I told the men that we lined up [and] we’re not making any excuses,” he said. “We’re still talented guys and we need to go out there and battle for a good result.”
Junior Chandler Diffee said he believes the Ramblers are confident in their ability to peak at NCAA regionals.
“We have a lot of pieces that just need to come together for regionals,” said Diffee. “But I think we have a lot of confidence that we can do that.”
Hasenbank said he believes a competitive mindset is essential for success. He said he tries to keep his runners mentally and physically ready to race during postseason and heading into the winter season.
Stuenkel said she believes the Ramblers have the potential to succeed at regionals.
“I think our team could do really well,” Stuenkel said. “We have a really tight pack this year and that’s really helpful at regionals to get a lower score and get a higher place.”
The Ramblers will be in action next at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet on Nov. 14 in Lawrence, Kansas.