Oct. 10, 2012
CHICAGO - After both finishing in the top five at the 40th annual Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, the Loyola University Chicago men's and women's cross country teams will travel to Louisville, Kentucky this Saturday for the 2012 NCAA Pre-Nationals Meet. Four races will be held on Saturday, with the action slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. local time at E.P. `Tom' Sawyer State Park.
The field, which includes fifteen teams that appear in the latest USTFCCCA national rankings, is highlighted by No. 3 BYU (Mountain Region), No. 7 Colorado (Mountain Region) and No. 9 Tulsa (Midwest Region). Loyola Head Coach Randy Hasenbank believes that competing against such a diverse and talented field can help both of his squads in many ways.
"This meet serves as a great opportunity for our athletes to run against some elite sides from different regions," stated Hasenbank. We'll need our experienced kids to be ready to go out and battle but I also am eager to see how our younger runners fare."
As they have become accustomed to doing this season, sophomore Sam Penzenstadler and senior Gina Valgoi will be called upon to help lead their respective sides. Penzenstadler (eleventh) and Valgoi (fourth) were Loyola's top finishers at the Sean Earl Invite, as the men's side took fourth and the women finished second.
"Sam, in my opinion, is still developing as an elite runner," said Hasenbank. "He has made impressive progress throughout the year and this weekend will serve as a great opportunity for him to run against some of the top athletes in the country."
Coach Hasenbank sees this as an especially big weekend for Gina Valgoi, as she will compete directly against elite runners that are in her class.
"For Gina, this is a great chance to run against some of the nation's elite," continued Hasenbank. "She'll be running with other elite runners and, consequently, I believe it should take some of the pressure off her to set the pace and allow her to run with the pack."
After competing at the NCAA Pre-Nationals, the Ramblers will return to action when they compete in the Illini Open in Urbana, Ill. on October 19.