After losing one of the most accomplished runners in program history, the Loyola women’s cross country team has a new identity for the 2019 season.
Lindsey Brewis had several accomplishments as a Rambler, including winning the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year in 2018. Brewis went on to become a professional runner for Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project, and she left her mark on the program after her storied career.
But now the Ramblers have to fill her shoes, meaning other runners have to step up. Women’s coach Alan Peterson said the pieces are there and said this year’s squad is “as deep as we’ve ever been.”
This year, it’s all about putting those pieces together. Junior Mimi Reimers and sophomore Claire Hengesbaugh are set to rise to the occasion after being named All-MVC last season.
In her first event of the year Sept. 13, Reimers won the Illinois State Invitational at Illinois State University — an event Brewis won last year as a redshirt senior. As a team, the Ramblers ended up winning the meet.
As a sophomore last year, Reimers finished seventh individually at the MVC Championships. After running alongside Brewis for two years, she said the team’s getting used to life without one of its most decorated runners in history.
“I think we’ve adjusted pretty well,” Reimers said. “Obviously [without] Lindsey at the top being that vocal leader, it’s different.”
Hengesbaugh is recovering from an ankle injury, so she has yet to race this season. She said she’s set to make her season debut Sept. 28 at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational at Montrose Beach. As a first-year last year, she finished sixth at the MVC Championships, coming in 3.32 seconds faster than Reimers.
Despite only running alongside Brewis for one year, Hengesbaugh said Brewis’ leadership skills stood out to her.
“I’d definitely say [Brewis] was a leader both athletically and socially,” Hengesbaugh said. “She also helped organize any team meetings and stuff like that. She was really good at taking charge and checking in with every single girl on the team.”
Brewis didn’t just leave her mark on the runners, though. She also left a lasting impact on Peterson’s coaching style. Since Brewis was always working to get better, Peterson said he needed to make sure she didn’t go overboard and avoided overworking herself.
After working with Brewis closely since his first season at Loyola in 2016 as a graduate assistant coach, he said he’s translating that mentality to the rest of the roster this year.
“I think just … really trying to keep her focused on what we’re trying to do really helped me with trying to get the rest of the girls better, as well,” Peterson said. “I needed to keep the reins on her, too. [Brewis] would always be, ‘Work, work, work,’ so I always had to be the one to kind of hold her back a little bit, too, and I think that’s kind of helped me with the other girls.”
The Ramblers have two meets left before the 2019 MVC Championships, starting with the Loyola Lakefront Invitational Sept. 28 at Montrose Beach, about two and a half miles from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.