The Sept. 26 Lakefront Invitational — a two-day cross-country meet hosted at Montrose Harbor — will be canceled due to concerns about health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a July 29 press release from Loyola Athletics.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make, especially regarding an event that means so much to our cross country program and is its only home event of the year,” Loyola Athletic Director Steve Watson said in the press release.
A Loyola Athletics spokesperson said Watson wouldn’t comment further.
The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) announced July 27 that the start of in-conference fall sports will be delayed until Sept. 18, while practices can begin Aug. 17. Cross-country and golf teams are not restricted from competing against non-conference opponents.
Associate head coach for the Loyola women’s team, Alan Peterson, said the cancelation didn’t come as a shock due to Illinois’ rise in cases.
“We kind of knew that just for safety concerns and for the well being of everyone that was going to be there and everyone involved, that it just probably wasn’t realistic that [the meet] was going to happen this fall,” Peterson said.
He said although nothing else has been officially canceled for the season, Loyola’s cross-country coaches have been working with other MVC coaches to figure out what possible season schedules could look like. He said Loyola cross-country is not yet limited to conference-only meets, however, other conferences like the Big 10 are already restricted.
Senior runner Mimi Reimers said although the cancelation didn’t come as a shock, she was still sad to hear about it since most runners’ parents and other Loyola teams normally come to watch.
“That’s kind of one of the only opportunities we have where everyone can see us compete,” she said. “Obviously it’s not much of a surprise given all the other cancelations happening right now, but it’s just a disappointment to not be able to race.”
Reimers said the mental preparation for this year is different and more difficult than in years past because the team hasn’t been together since March and there’s so much uncertainty regarding the upcoming season.
Last year’s Lakefront Invitational brought in a total of 50 teams from both the United States and Canada, with the Loyola women’s team finishing runner-up and the men’s team finishing in 5th place. This year would have been the 43rd Invitational in history, after a six year break between 2012-2018.
Loyola said information about the 2021 Lakefront Invitational will come at a later date.