WICHITA, Kan. - Sophomore Kevin White and redshirt senior Jake Mazanke secured a one-two finish in the men's 800m run final as the Loyola University Chicago track & field teams closed out competition at the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships this afternoon at Cessna Stadium in Wichita, Kan.
The Rambler men finished the event as part of a tie for sixth in the team standings at 43 points, an eight-point improvement from last season. Loyola's women's side shared seventh place following an 11-point jump of its own from last year's outdoor league meet, closing the weekend with 38 points.
"We had a great finish to the 2017 MVC Outdoor Championships," Loyola head track & field coach Bob Thurnhoffer said. "We made some significant improvements on both the men's and women's sides since last year and we'll use that momentum moving forward in the years to come. Emma (Hatch) kicked it off with an epic finish in the 10,000m run, Kiera (Washpun) followed that up with an upset over an undefeated Amanda McClain from Illinois State in a tremendous long jump battle, and Kevin narrowly beat Jake for a sensational one-two finish in the 800m run, keeping the middle distance tradition alive and well at Loyola. Jaz (Hayes) had a big personal-best run of 10.46 in the 100m dash, while Emma came back for a fourth-place finish in the 5,000m run, with Lindsey (Brewis) right behind in fifth."
White and Mazanke, who entered the weekend with the Valley's top two times in the 800m run, separated themselves from the pack heading into the final 200m stretch. White managed to hold off a hard-charging Mazanke en route to claiming the league crown in 1:53.30, with Mazanke coming in just eight one-hundredths of a second behind him in second place at 1:53.38. With his victory, White, who swept the conference's 800m indoor and outdoor titles, became the third Rambler in the past four seasons to win the outdoor championship in the event.
"Jake and Kevin were the best guys coming into the meet in the 800m, were solid in the preliminaries, and proved themselves in the final," Loyola assistant track & field coach Mircea Bogdan commented. "It is awesome for our program and our school to continue winning titles and we are still hungry for more. Moving forward, we are really excited to see Jake and Kevin at the NCAA West Regional in 10 days, where we hope to continue putting up good marks."
In the sprinting events, senior Jaz Hayes added seven points to the Ramblers' team score. The Louisville, Ky. native posted a personal-best time of 10.46 to finish fifth in the 100m dash finals before closing out the day with a sixth-place finish in the 200m dash finals at 21.22. Hayes also saw action in the 4x100m relay where he teamed up with fellow senior Andrew Berman, junior Samuel Urben and sophomore Regan Todhunter as the quartet took home sixth place with a final time of 43.12.
Urben, who finished eighth in the 400m dash finals at 48.68, also saw action as part of the Ramblers' 4x400m relay squad with Mazanke, sophomore Leron Norton and freshman Michael Edwards. The squad turned in a final time of 3:14.90 that was good enough for sixth place.
The trio of juniors Cassie Bloch, Lindsey Brewis and Emma Hatch paced the attack for the Ramblers in the distance events. Bloch, coming off a third-place finish in the mile run at the indoor league meet this past February, claimed third overall in the 1,500m run finals as she raced across in 4:38.85 to collect All-MVC honors. Hatch, the reigning 10,000m run champion, and Brewis came in fourth (17:40.15) and fifth (17:45.28), respectively, in the 5,000m run finals to account for nine points in Loyola's final team total.
In the women's 4x100m relay, the team of juniors Brady Rodney and Kiera Washpun, sophomore Natajah Simmons and freshman Denee' Lawrence turned in a season-best time of 46.81 to finish seventh. That time ranks fourth on Loyola's all-time outdoor record board in the event.
"Today was a great finish for the team and for the program as a whole," Thurnhoffer concluded. "Now we turn our attention to the NCAA West Regional, where we'll be well represented by Eric (Burns), Jake, Kevin and, most likely, Kiera. We'll have to wait to see if Jaz and Emma make the cut. It's been quite the season of growth and learning and we're really looking forward to the future. Go Ramblers!"
Loyola will now wait for the results of several other conference meets being contested this weekend to see which of its athletes will qualify for the NCAA West Regional, May 25-27, in Austin, Texas. Check back with www.loyolaramblers.com and follow the official Twitter account of Loyola Track & Field, @RamblersTFXC, for the most up to date information as the Ramblers advance into postseason action.