Junior Eric Burns and senior Regan Todhunter shined for the Loyola men’s indoor track and field team at its first three meets, while redshirt senior Lindsey Brewis made a strong showing in her 2019 women’s indoor track and field debut Jan. 19.
Both teams competed in three events to start the year, starting with a combined fifth-place finish at the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Holiday Open Dec. 7. Team stats weren’t available for the Hawkeye Invitational Jan. 12, but they both finished in fifth place out of five teams at the Notre Dame Invitational Jan. 19.
Individually, Burns finished in first place in the long jump competition at the GVSU Holiday Open and Notre Dame Invitational. He jumped with a distance of 23’ 7.25” at GVSU and 23’ 10.25” at Notre Dame.
After nearly tying his own school record in the 60-meter run at the Holiday Open, Todhunter eclipsed the mark with a time of 8.41 seconds to finish fourth.
Loyola head coach Bob Thurnhoffer said he believes Burns has improved his craft and is ready for the national spotlight.
“In my book, he hasn’t quite made it to the national stage yet, but he’s definitely ready to,” Thurnhoffer said. “He’s definitely a guy who takes his craft very, very seriously and he [is] definitely a guy who lives that [athlete] lifestyle, and the sky’s the limit for that guy. He’s developed so much over these last two years physically, mentally and emotionally.”
On the women’s side, Brewis started the season at the Notre Dame Invitational, running a time of 4:52.06 to finish third in the 1600-meter run. Junior long jumper Mackenzie Arnold, who transferred from University of Utah last year, turned in her best performance of the young season at the GVSU Holiday Open with a jump of 18’ 6.5.”
Sophomore sprinters Vince DiVenere and Molly Reighard had strong showings in the GVSU Holiday Open. DiVenere placed second in the 400-meter event with a time of 48.37 seconds, which moves him into eighth all-time at Loyola. Reighard competed in the 60m event and finished 18th with a time of 7.89 seconds; she now ranks sixth all-time for the women’s 60m.
DiVenere, 20, has emerged as a reliable sprinter for the men’s relay team this season, according to Thurnhoffer. DiVenere said listening to his coaches has helped him improve on his sprinting this season.
“Just listening to the coaches, just buying into any program that I’ve ever been a part of,” DiVenere said. “I know these guys have been running track, coaching track for many years and they know what they’re doing.”
Reighard said she’s been able to stay healthy so far this season, which has kept her away from the sidelines and able to compete with her team.
“A big thing for me is honestly just being healthy,” Reighard said. “I came in [as a first-year] pretty banged up and then had a stress reaction in my shin last year [and] was pretty sick for almost three months straight. So, I think just being healthy has been a huge game changer for me, finally getting into my shoes and being able to stay running has been a huge thing.”
DiVenere and Reighard have strong expectations for the team’s success in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) this season. Both said they see their team being able to win competitions and be at the top of the MVC if they remain healthy.
“I’d say given that we’re healthy, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be top three in conference as a full team,” DiVenere said. “It all comes down to, ‘Are we doing the right things when it’s warm ups? Are we doing the right things in the weightroom, in terms of keeping our body healthy? Are we doing ice baths?’ And [if] we do do that, there’s going to be a lot of success.”
Thurnhoffer said he and the coaching staff have made changes to regarding how the athletes interact, saying they’re stressing the importance of the individual performances toward the final team total.
“It’s really like almost 12 teams in one in a sense,” Thurnhoffer said. “Maybe from a training standpoint it is, but culturally, it can be quite different, and that’s something that as a coaching staff, we felt was extremely important to have that kind of cohesive team identity and cohesive team support of one another and we’ve really tried to make it a point that the athletes understand.”
Next up, the Ramblers are set to compete at the Black and Gold Premier Jan. 25 in Iowa City, Iowa.