The Loyola boys cross country team likes to be fashionably late to start a season.
But once the Ramblers arrive, they make sure others pay attention.
In the team’s first invitational of the season, Todd Ford and William Hague finished 3-4 on Saturday, leading Loyola to ninth place with 314 points in the 64-team field at the Richard Spring Invitational at Peoria’s Detweiller Park, site of the State Meet. Ford’s time of 14:26 was the fastest of the fall by the Ramblers.
“Those were two really impressive runs,” said Loyola coach Dan Seeberg. “I must say they exceeded my expectations. But our season will come down to what we bring, after those guys. We knew all along we had a big time gap, so it’s a matter of how close we get those other guys to the two front runners.”
Chris Kelly was next for Loyola, finishing 57th in 15:26. Kevin Donahue took the fourth spot (96th in 15:43), and Logan Podbielski rounded out the team’s scoring (159th, 16:11).
Palatine, the state’s top-ranked team by ESPN’s Dyestat, took the team title with 113. Five top-10 teams competed. Oak Park-River Forest’s Malachy Schrobilgen won in 14:21.
“We were overall pretty pleased,” Seeberg said. “It was a little uneven.”
Seeberg especially praised Kelly’s race, the junior’s first varsity competition. The Ramblers needed him, too, because Sean Lamble struggled to 244th (16:39).
“Sean’s our usual third man, and he didn’t have a good day,” Seeberg said. “But I am confident he will be back.”
Donahue also shined, finishing in under 16 minutes for the first time.
“Wonderful day,” the coach said. “We needed some guys to step up and do some good things for us.”
Loyola will get another peek at the top-ranked Pirates Saturday at the Palatine’s Invitational.
“Last weekend was a big meet with a massive field, maybe too big,” Seeberg said. “This week is smaller, but the depth is incredible. I like these tests because we are preparing ourselves for the State Meet.”
The Ramblers finished 21st with 639 points in the 57-team field at Detweiller Park.
Jackie McDonnell led the way for Loyola by placing 71st in 18:39. Caroline Zarowski finished 102nd in 18:54.
Lake Park won the overall title behind Kaylee Flanagan’s meet-record time of 16:44.