The Loyola men’s and women’s track and field teams started out the indoor season with a successful showing at the John Tierney Classic Jan. 20.
The Ramblers brought home five event titles from Milwaukee: the women’s mile, the men’s 300-meter dash, men’s weight throw and both 4×400-meter relays.
Senior distance runner Cassie Bloch finished the mile run with a time of 4:54.15, breaking the meet’s previous record. The Ramblers managed to take the top four places in the event with redshirt junior Lindsey Brewis placing second, sophomore Rita Maurais placing third and senior Emma Hatch in fourth.
The team took a three-week long hiatus going into winter break where athletes didn’t practice nearly as much compared to during the season. The Tierney Classic was the first meet after break and Bloch said the team was eager to compete.
“For a lot of the distance girls, it was the first meet for indoor track, so we put in a lot of work over break,” Bloch said. “I think for a lot of us it was good. It showed us that we are ready and that the work that we put in really did pay off and will continue to pay off.”
This win was also a new personal record for Bloch. She said she was impressed with the success of the meet, especially since this was the first meet returning from winter break.
“A year ago, I would’ve been really nervous about thinking I could run at this time,” Bloch said. “Now, I knew I could do it so actually doing it was satisfying. But I know it’s only the beginning, so I’m looking towards the next rung on the ladder and I have to keep climbing.”
In field events, senior Stephen Hubona won the men’s weight throw event. Hubona’s main event, discus throw, occurs only in the outdoor season, so winning this event means a lot to him.
“It’s the first meet back from break, so I wasn’t expecting too much of it,” Hubona said. “It ended up going a lot more smoothly than I expected. It was one of my best throws in a year, so I was just very happy with the results.”
Hubona also scored a new personal best of 57-7.75, shy of the school record of 65-00. He said he hopes to break the school’s record in discus throw before completing his indoor season.
“It was relieving,” Hubona said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve [achieved a personal best] so I could finally take a breath. It’s just going to keep me pushing harder.”
The men and women’s 4x400m races were swept by the Ramblers, with both relay teams scoring a win over Marquette University. Sophomore Michael Edwards also took home medaling honors in the 300m dash. Although this event isn’t competed in the Missouri Valley Conference, Loyola’s track and field head coach Bob Thurnhoffer said the Tierney Classic was meant to get some practice competing.
“The John Tierney Classic is something we added to the schedule last year,” Thurnhoffer said. “It’s just … kind of fun [and] low-key. It’s five mid-major schools, so [it’s] a good kind of meet coming off winter break to get some reps in. Not a whole lot of pressure.”
Thurnhoffer said the importance of this meet was to create a competitive environment. He said the coaching staff stressed the ideas of cheering for teammates and realizing it’s not all about the wins.
“We really want to support each other as everyone is racing,” Thurnhoffer said. “Beyond that it’s just creating a positive, encouraging environment. We don’t want to put too much pressure on the athletes. We want them to be in an environment they want to compete in.”
Bloch said the early success meant a lot for her and the team and provided motivation for the athletes.
“Starting in a better place than I ran last year, it’s really exciting especially this early in the season,” Bloch said. “It gives me a lot more confidence going into the bigger meets and conference.”
Bloch and Hubona said this is just the beginning of the season and they have a long way to go. Hubona said the team needs to work on supporting each other.
“We have to [support] each other through different disciplines,” Hubona said. “It’s not just the throwers supporting the throwers or the runners supporting the runners. Coming together as a team and keeping each other motivated … and making sure everyone is doing the best by conference.”
Thurnhoffer said this meet’s success came from the team’s mentality. He said as long as the runners continue with this, the season will be as strong as he would like it to be.
“We need to focus in the moment,” Thurnhoffer said. “Take care of today. Take care of this warm up right now … the success of the tournament means we need to continue what we are doing because we are on the right path.”
The Ramblers are scheduled to compete at the Meyo Invitational Feb. 2-3 in South Bend, Indiana.