Feb. 24, 2013
Youngstown, Ohio - For the first time in school history, the Loyola University Chicago track & field teams completed a clean sweep of the team titles at the 2013 Horizon League Indoor Track & Field Championships at the WATTS this afternoon in Youngstown, Ohio. This marks Loyola's first league title on the men's side since 1980, while the women capture the first league crown in program history. Head coach Randy Hasenbank was named the Horizon League Indoor Coach of the Year and his admiration for both squads could not be concealed.
"This weekend was very exciting for us," stated Hasenbank. "The winning attitude and the tenacity of this team, along with the heart of these kids showed, makes me very proud as a coach."
On the men's side, senior Declan Murray, racing in his final indoor championship meet, turned in a performance for the ages. Murray rolled to victory in his specialty event, the 800m run, taking first place. Teammates Ned Brady and Ryan Van Portfliet finished second and third, respectively, behind Murray. Freshman Peter Archibald finished fifth. The Strongsville, Ohio native then turned his attention to the 4x400m relay. Murray, running the anchor leg, alongside teammates Mike Wetzel, Jake Mazanke and Kevin Glastetter, crushed the Horizon League record in the event by nearly three seconds. Due to his efforts this weekend, Murray has been named the 2013 Horizon League Men's Track Athlete of the Year.
Sophomore Sam Penzenstadler was a standout performer in the distance events. The Oshkosh, Wis. native got the day off to a great start for the Ramblers on the track by winning the men's mile. Teammates Declan Murray, Jacob Autio and Jared Skrabacz finished in that order behind Penzenstadler, as Loyola owned the top-four spots. Penzenstadler returned to the track for the men's 3000m race later in the afternoon, cruising to another first-place finish. Junior Mike Janusek finished right behind Penzenstadler in second, while fellow junior Andy Fenske came in fourth. Penzenstadler was recognized as the men's Individual Scoring Champion.
The sprinters also enjoyed a banner day on the men's side. Kevin Glastetter set a new WATTS record en route to winning the men's 400m dash title. Teammate Mike Wetzel joined Glastetter on the awards stand, finishing third. Freshman Chris Strup put a cap on what has been a fantastic rookie campaign for the Edon, Ohio native as he recorded a second-place finish in the 60m dash and a third-place finish in the 200m dash. Strup was recognized as the men's Newcomer of the Year by the league after the conclusion of the meet.
Not to be forgotten, James McLachlan completed his own clean sweep on Sunday. McLachlan, already the league champion in the long jump, snatched first place in the triple jump Sunday morning, tying the facility record. The junior out of Wymondham, England was recognized as the men's Field Athlete of the Year.
"The men earned their first conference title since 1980," said Hasenbank. "They basically doubled the point total they put up last year. After only winning two individual awards last year and scoring right at 90 points, we captured nine individual titles this year. This team has made tremendous improvement. Declan and Sam were fantastic as they had their hands in 70 of our points but it truly was a team effort all the way around. We had just a few field entries and those guys came up big. James McLachlan was dominant."
On the women's side, senior Gina Valgoi added yet another chapter to her historic career in Rogers Park. Valgoi exploded out of the gate for the Ramblers on Sunday morning, coasting to victory in the women's mile. Freshman Sydney Stuenkel finished third. The Detroit, Mich. native returned to the track later on Sunday afternoon, repeating the feat, this time in the 3000m. Valgoi, alongside teammate Megan Janezic, recorded the top-two times in the event. Like her counterpart Penzenstadler on the men's side, Valgoi was recognized as the women's Individual Scoring Champion.
Youth was again on full display for the Rambler women as well. Freshman Rebecca Stearns was dominant as she won the 800m run. Teammates Catherine Crisler and Mary Whitmore finished third and fourth, respectively, as well. Stearns, out of Darien, Ill., then teamed up with Candice Carajohn, Jade Kinney and Amber Davis, as the quartet set a new Horizon League record in the 4x400m relay en route to victory. Stearns completed a clean sweep of the Newcomer of the Year awards for the Ramblers, as she earned the women's honor to go along with teammate Chris Strup's on the men's side.
Freshman Amber Davis led the way for the Rambler sprinters on the women's side, as she posted a victory in the 400m dash. Her mark also sets a new Horizon League record. Sophomore Jade Kinney was right behind Davis in second-place while Candice Carajohn finished fourth. A pair of freshman, Breanna Walker and Anietra Butler, each recorded a pair of top-five finishes in separate events. Butler finished third in the 60m dash, while Walker came in fifth. In the 200m dash, Walker finished a close second and Butler came across in fourth-place.
"The women have never won a team title," continued Hasenbank. "This is a special accomplishment and they created some pretty special memories. I felt that the women were in a good position to win this coming into the meet. We battled through some adversity here on day two. It took the ladies until about the 200 meter final before we really took control of this thing. We have seven individual champions, up from zero last year. We also put up nearly 100 more points than last year as well and went from fourth all the way up to first. Of course, Gina, Candice and a host of others were fantastic. The sprinters really made a difference. The 60m and 200m were crucial for us. All in all, we ended up with solid performances from these young ladies."
The Loyola University Chicago track & field squads will now turn their attention to the Alex Wilson Invitational next weekend in South Bend, Ind., March 1-2. The meet serves as the final chance for competitors to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will take place in Fayetteville, Ark., March 8-9.