The Raleigh Relay officially kicked off the Loyola track and field team’s outdoor season on March 23, lasting until March 25.
‘Rampant at Raleigh’: Loyola Enjoys Success at First Outdoor Meet
The Raleigh Relay officially kicked off the Loyola track and field team’s outdoor season on March 23, lasting until March 25. During the three day stretch at North Carolina State University’s Paul Derr Track & Field Facility, the Ramblers men’s and women’s teams posted successful results in different events.
On the first day at Raleigh, two personal records came from the men’s 1500-meter, with junior Miguel Abaitua at 3:48.74 and sophomore Gabe Smit at 3:50.13, placing second and eighth, respectively, within their heat. In the men’s 500-meter, sophomore Fionn Harrington also posted a personal record with a time of 14:23.63.
In the women’s 10,000-meter, the last event of the night, Loyola saw more success. In addition to graduate student Sophia Manners’ new personal best of 35:44.05, sophomore Grace Jostock clocked the ninth-best time in program history with 35:26.23 at the women’s 10K.
Jostock said this performance signals a major comeback after redshirting the outdoor track and field season due to personal health concerns.
“Looking back now, it’s the biggest blessing in disguise,” Jostock said about redshirting. “It made me realize to find an identity outside running, and it made me find my genuine love for it again.”
Jostock also expressed heavy appreciation for her support network through the health concerns, saying it was gratifying to be able to “run and do it.” Because of her decision to redshirt, Jostock finished as a first-year, eligibility-wise for the outdoor track and field season, but finished her indoor track and field and cross-country seasons as a sophomore.
On day two, only three Ramblers competed, with juniors Jayla Johnson and Jevan Terry joined by sophomore Grace Kuhn.
On the third and final day of the relay, the Ramblers hit the ground running. Sophomore Erin Connors posted a time of 1:03.51, tying her personal best in the women’s 400-meter. In the men’s 800-meter, Smit grabbed another personal best with a time of 1:52.27, adding another record-setting run.
With a time of 1:50.46 and a 12th-overall finish, Abaitua set another personal best, placing ninth on the program’s 800-meter all-time record list. The time overtakes his previous best of 1:50.81, which he set at the Indiana Invitational during the 2021-22 season.
Abaitua, who also ran the 1,500-meter, said the results reflect Head Coach Gavin Kennedy’s philosophy of focusing on one event, as well as his 800-meter-centric training method.
Following Easter Break, members of the team will represent Loyola in several different meets across California and Illinois before taking a shot at the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship on May 6 and 7.
Abaitua said the goal for the team in the final stretch of the season is to remain consistent and improve before conference.
“Our main focus is conference and that’s at the end of the outdoor season,” Abaitua said. “On the way there, we also want to get good times to be higher on the ranks and also get original marks to then try to have a shot at making nationals.”
Abaitua also noted how a smaller squad led to greater individual focus, compared to cross country.
“When it comes to track, there’s more individual title ambition,” Abaitua said. “As a team, we don’t have enough people or as many people, we’re not such a big team as other teams are.”
Loyola’s next competition, the Bryan Clay Invitational, takes place in Azusa, California in a two-day stretch from April 13 to 14.
Featured image courtesy of Loyola Athletics