After disappointing results at the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Cross Country Championship on Nov. 1, with the men coming in sixth out of nine teams and the women placing fourth out of ten teams, Loyola’s cross country team is moving on to the NCAA Midwest Regional meet on Nov. 14 in Lawrence, Kansas. All teams run in the regional meet regardless of how they finish in their conference meet.
Head coach Randy Hasenbank said he believes the team is ready to put the MVC Championship behind it and move on to regionals.
“For the NCAA regionals, we’ve got a women’s team that is pretty well prepared for the 6,000-meter race,” said Hasenbank.
Hasenbank said he is expecting the senior women, Sydney Stuenkel, Ericka Laviste and Hannah Magnuson, to pull through in this crucial postseason meet because of their extensive experience and previous success on the track.
Stuenkel and Laviste earned Second-Team All-Conference honors and Magnuson was previously named MVC Athlete of the Week. All three women scored points for the Ramblers at the MVC Championship alongside teammates Lindsey Brewis and Julia Demko. Brewis placed 21st with a personal best time of 17:49 in the 5K and Demko finished 26th with a time of 17:53.
Hasenbank also expects Laviste to improve at regionals.
“I like to talk to our athletes about how they’re going to be when the lights come on,” Hasenbank said. “So the other day it was the biggest stage for us thus far, and [Laviste] performed very well. She showed a lot of leadership and courage and confidence and put herself out there, so it was a nice way for her to go out with her regular MVC career.”
Unlike the expectation of the women’s team, Hasenbank said he believes the men’s side is less prepared due to the younger runners’ lack of experience.
Junior Jake Brown is expected to be one of the only bright spots for the team at regionals.
Brown has been consistent in his showing for the Ramblers this season, even setting a personal best in the 8K with 24:34 at the MVC Championship.
His teammate and senior Mitch Baum said he’s excited for the change of pace that comes with regionals.
“Regionals is kind of interesting because I don’t usually get to run 10Ks at all,” Baum said. “I got to do it for my first time last year, so I’m really excited to get a second experience underneath the belt.”
Baum ran his last 10K at regionals in 2014 with a time of 32:00. Since then he said he has trained hard and is confident heading into his final postseason for the Ramblers.
“I’d love to just shatter that [10K time],” Baum said.
The Ramblers are scheduled to compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 14 in Lawrence, Kansas.