The Maroon

Anthony Rizzi leads the pack for cross country team

Anthony+Rizzi%2C+environmental+sophomore%2C+competes+in+the+NAIA+National+Championship+on+Nov.+19.+Rizzi+became+Loyola%27s+first+male+national+qualifier+since+2006.
Anthony Rizzi, environmental sophomore, competes in the NAIA National Championship on Nov. 19. Rizzi became Loyola's first male national qualifier since 2006.

Anthony Rizzi, environmental sophomore, competes in the NAIA National Championship on Nov. 19. Rizzi became Loyola's first male national qualifier since 2006.

Anthony Rizzi, environmental sophomore, competes in the NAIA National Championship on Nov. 19. Rizzi became Loyola's first male national qualifier since 2006.

John Casey

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Coming into his freshman season, Anthony Rizzi never saw himself as a record-setter and national qualifier, but now that he is, he’s intent on being the best that Loyola University has ever seen.

“My first two season’s here have definitely been unexpected,” Rizzi said in a one-on-one interview. “I never went to state in high school, I only ever made regionals, so qualifying for nationals was a huge accomplishment.”

His impressive season, including a personal 8K record at the Berry Invitational, all led up to the Southern States Athletic Conference championship where Rizzi placed seventh and ultimately qualified for the national championship. Rizzi was Loyola’s first male national qualifier since 2006, ending the decade-long drought.

“It was a fun experience, different than anything I’ve done before,” Rizzi said about his championship experience. “I had pride in just being there among some of the nation’s fastest people.”

Rizzi went on to finish 280th out of the 332-runner field at nationals with a time of 27:51.70, exactly four minutes shy of the first place finisher.

A lot of Rizzi’s recent success can be attributed to the new head coach hire, Nick Dodson.

“[Dodson] has done a great job of recreating the program,” Rizzi said regarding his new coach. “He has a really strong plan for the team, he for sure is taking the team in the right direction.”

Dodson’s effect on the team’s success can be seen clearly on paper. In addition to his national qualifier, his coaching this fall has led to numerous career and season personal records. Despite increasing intensity in training, the team has seen far less injuries this season, largely due to Dodson’s training tactics.

Rizzi’s goal as a cross country runner over the next season is pretty straightforward, yet a difficult task to conquer.

“My goal is to tackle this next season differently. I want to make records and history.”

Rizzi, who currently holds the sixth fastest 8K time in Loyola history, is intent on reaching the top. He isn’t too far behind, sitting a minute and 45 seconds back from number one.

Despite seeing so much success as a runner, Rizzi’s ultimate goal at Loyola is unrelated to his cross country career.

“What I want to accomplish at Loyola is to be living proof that you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” Rizzi said, when asked about what he wants to accomplish by graduation day. “I want to have students remember they can do what they want, that its fun and to enjoy it.”

Rizzi is deeply involved in the Loyola community and beyond. In addition to work, Rizzi is passionate about environmental issues and has frequently attended environmental conferences. He urges new and current students to become involved in what they love to do, whether it be on campus or elsewhere.

 

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Anthony Rizzi leads the pack for cross country team