Cross Country crosses the finish line

Caroline Gonzalez

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Loyola University’s cross country team completed its fifth and final season competition on Oct. 15.

The team traveled to Berry College for the Berry Invitational in Rome, Georgia, and had several runners with notable performances. Throughout the entire season, each runner has achieved a personal or lifetime best in at least one competition. At the Berry Invitational, sophomores Anthony Rizzi and Brian Davis were among the elite on the men’s side. Leading for the women, Tristan Sanders, music freshman, placed 80th overall with a time of 26:19.

Rizzi recorded a personal best of 27:39 in the 8K, and finished 53rd individually among runners from 25 teams.

Nick Dodson, head coach, said Rizzi is becoming more confident in his training and has been a leader on the team all year.

“He’s been our top performer, and he has put himself in the position to qualify for the national championships if he plays his cards right,” Dodson said.

The conference championship, set for Nov. 4, determines who will have the opportunity to compete in the national tournament in Elsah, Illinois.

If Rizzi places in the top four in the conference championship, he will advance to the national championship. Rizzi, a Chicago native, said that he’s looking forward to the opportunity of competing close to home.

Davis also ranked among the top performers with a time of 29:18, which put him in 100th place.

Davis, who was out for the majority of his freshman year due to injury, said he was humbled by placing at the invitational.

“I had the opportunity to run against some of the best runners in the country and I’m grateful for that,” Davis said.

On the women’s side, Sanders has led the team for the entire year according to Dodson.

“She’s done outstanding this year. She’s learned what it takes to perform at the collegiate level. With that being said, I think she’s put herself in a good position to make the all freshman team,” Dodson said.

All of the runners are competing under coach Dodson and assistant coach Livia Mahaffie for the first time.

Dodson came from conference rival Brewton Parker, where he was the director of track and field. In 2016, Brewton Parker had five All-Conference selections and a 400M conference championship under Dodson.

Assistant Coach Mahaffie spent the last year in Seattle, Washington, where she coached cross country and track and field at Holy Name Academy.

“They expect excellence from all of their athletes, and the took care of us like we were their own,” Davis said.

With the season coming to an end, Dodson looks forward to the individual achievements obtainable in the conference and national tournament this year. For next year, coach said he is confident that the team will reach a new level of success.

“We have several recruits coming in, a couple of state champions. It’s going to put us in a position to be really good,” Dodson said.

The conference championships on Nov. 4 will decide whether or not the men’s team will send their first athlete to a national meet in Loyola’s program history.

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