Oct. 27, 2012
KENOSHA, Wis. - For the first time in program history, the Loyola University Chicago men's and women's cross country teams completed a clean sweep of all four titles, both team and individual, at the Horizon League Championships this afternoon in Kenosha, Wis.
"I'm very proud of both squads," said Loyola Head Coach Randy Hasenbank. "We felt like we had positioned ourselves to battle for two titles but you still have to go out and execute. Both squads followed the race plan and competed like warriors. I am very proud."
Running in his home state, sophomore Sam Penzenstadler earned medalist honors in the men's 8k with a time of 24:59 to help propel the men's side to their first title since 2001 and first outright title 1997. Penzenstadler becomes Loyola's first individual men's champion since Eddie Slowikowski (1989). Including Penzenstadler, Loyola placed four of the top five finishers in the men's race. Junior Jake Autio (25:04), senior Oscar Aguinaga (25:19) and junior Alex Thornburg (25:22) were all close behind. Rounding out the Rambler lineup were Jared Skrabacz (25:45), Nick Miller (25:53) and Khushpal Sangha (26:02).
"Sam has many good days ahead of him so I'm very excited to see him win a title this early in his career," stated Hasenbank. "I thought Jake, Alex, Jared and Oscar ran one of the better team races I can remember. Nick Miller also had a tremendous race today running in our six spot."
Capping off an amazing career, senior Gina Valgoi won the women's 5k race in a time of 17:05. She becomes Loyola's first individual champion on the women's side since Kristyne McGuinn (2001). The Ramblers also captured their first team title since 2008. Like the men's side, the Loyola women were ever-present at the front of the pack. Junior Alyvia Clark (18:03) and freshman Sydney Stuenkel (18:14) finished second and third, respectively, behind Valgoi. Juniors Megan Janezic (18:21) and Mary Whitmore (18:51) also landed in the top fifteen for the Ramblers. Rounding out the lineup were freshmen Ella Tracy (18:53) and Ericka Laviste (18:58).
"Gina has worked hard and earned this title," said Hasenbank. "Mary Whitmore competed very well for us today, locking down the five spot to help secure the win. I'm also very proud of Sydney Stuenkel as she earned newcomer of the year for her efforts."
As if the team championships weren't enough, Loyola Head Coach Randy Hasenbank was also named Horizon League cross country Coach of the Year. He becomes the first Loyola cross country couch to earn that honor on the men's side since Mark Burns in 2001 and the first on the women's side since Rick Wemple in 2008.
The Ramblers will now head to the NCAA Midwest Regionals in Springfield, Mo. on Friday, November 9th.