Moraine Valley Community College || Athletics || Mens' Cross Country

Men's Cross Country

March 20, 2015

Moraine Valley runners honored for academic performance

Four members of the Cyclone women’s and men’s cross country teams achieved 2014 Academic All-America honors from the National Junior College Cross Country Coaches Association for their outstanding work in the classroom. Additionally, each team earned a 12th-place national ranking as an Academic All-America team.

Aileen Gorman (Oak Lawn) and Tonie Wasco (Orland Park) and Anthony and Justin Briante (Evergreen Park) were recognized for academic achievement for the fall 2014 semester. Gorman also earned the honor in 2013.

Joining Gorman and Wasco on the women’s Academic Team were Abby Correa (Oak Forest), Crystal Flores (Summit), Nemy Hernandez (Oak Lawn), Sarah McCann (Chicago), Amy Miller (Alsip), and Jackie Navarrete (Alsip).

Joining the Briantes on the men’s Academic Team were Braulio Castellanos (Burbank), Alejandro Montes (Blue Island) and Dawid Palac (Burbank).

The Moraine Valley cross country program has fielded 43 Academic All-Americans and 12 Academic All-American teams over the past 15 years.

The women’s team also excelled athletically winning Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and NJCAA Region IV Division I championships and finishing 24th at the national championship. Gorman became the first cross country All-American runner and twice earned All-conference and All-region honors and was the conference individual champion in 2013. She also qualified for the national championship twice. Correa, Flores and Navarrete also garnered All-conference and All-region honors.

Palac and Anthony Briante also earned athletic honors. Palac is a two-time national qualifier and two-time all-conference and all-region selection. Briante is a 2014 national qualifier and All-conference and All-region selection.

“These scholar-athletes are simply outstanding. They attend class full time, work part time and devote countless hours to their studies and sport. Their performance on and off the field speaks highly of them. I am very proud of their achievement. It is a tremendous honor for them and Moraine Valley,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer.

November 18, 2014

Season features All-Conference, All-Region selections

Individual performances highlighted the 2014 season with three Cyclones earning nods to All-Conference and All-Region teams and a trip to the national championship. Additionally, six of the returning runners turned in their best time of their two-year stint as Cyclones. They also continued a tradition that started in 2001 with either a team or individuals competing in the championship every year.

Leading the way for the team were sophomores Dawid Palac (Reavis) and Anthony Briante (Evergreen Park) and freshman Yousef Khazneh (Richards). Palac was a two-time national qualifier and two-time All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and All-NJCAA Region IV Division I. Briante and Khazneh each garnered conference and region honors this year as well as competed in the national championship in Lubbock, Texas.

“Dawid really came on strong this year, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. He was felled all of August by an illness, and for him to come back the way he did to earn those honors and to compete again at nationals says an awful lot of his work ethic and commitment and dedication to his sport. He will definitely contribute at the next level,” his coach, Mark Horstmeyer, said.

“Anthony is a workhorse and did all we asked of him and then some. We are so pleased that he was able to accomplish his goals. He will continue to improve and help out his next team,” Horstmeyer said. “We are pleased with how Yousef gained experience this year and was able to achieve so much. He now knows what he will have to do to get even better next year. We expect big things from him next fall.”

The other freshman, Braulio Castellanos (Reavis), also will be counted on to help lead the incoming runners next fall. His first-year experience will help him a great deal, according to his coach. “Braulio was really solid for us this year, and we think he gained a lot from competing at this level. We expect big things from him next fall.”

The coach also commended two-year veterans Brandon Ceh (Evergreen Park), a national qualifier and All-Region selection in 2013, Justin Briante (Evergreen Park), Jesus Rojas (Eisenhower), Alejandro Montes (Eisenhower), Anton Thauer (St. Rita), and Larry Byrd (Evergreen Park). “They were a really great group of young men to work with and be associated with. They were our blue-collar runners—and we couldn’t have enjoyed the success we have had over the past two years without their commitment,” Horstmeyer said. “They know they have to work hard and put in the time to accomplish their goals, and they will be an asset at the next level. We appreciated their contributions. We will miss them.”

November 10, 2014

Three Cyclones finish season at national championship

Three Cyclones wrapped up their 2014 season at the NJCAA Division I championship Nov. 8 in Lubbock, Texas. For two of them, they crossed the finish line as a Cyclone for the final time.

Dawid Palac (Reavis) led the trio across the windy 8K course at Shadow Hills Golf Course in 149th place in 28:39. He was followed by Yousef Khazneh (Richards) in 171st in 29:08 and Anthony Briante (Evergreen Park) in 178th in 29:15. There were 222 finishers.

The three-man contingent earned their spots in the national championship by racing to All-Region IV Division I berths on Oct. 25. Palac has been a national qualifier twice. This was the first trip for Khazneh and Briante. For Palac and Briante, the championship also meant the last finish line as Cyclones while Khazneh will have another opportunity next season.

“I told Dawid and Anthony after the meet that I know they were not happy with their place or time, but they have made their school, their coaches and their teammates very proud. They have worked hard for two years, and the results are evident. Very few student-athletes have this experience, and once their disappointment wears off, they’ll know how special this was for them,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer. “I thanked them both for the impact and contributions they have made as Moraine Valley runners. Coach [Dimitri] Dimizas and I are extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to work with them for two years. They will definitely contribute at the next level.

“We are excited for what Yousef will bring to the program next year—he has championship experience, and he will know what he has to do to prepare. The sky’s the limit for him,” Horstmeyer added.

October 27, 2014

Three Cyclones race into nationals

Three Cyclones will carry the men’s banner into the NJCAA championship Nov. 8 in Lubbock, Texas, after their All-Region IV Division I performance on Oct. 25.

Yousef Khazneh led the trio with a seventh place finish in 27:51, Anthony Briante was next in 10th in 28:09 and Dawid Palac finished 12th in 28:13.

Rounding out the scoring for the Cyclones were Braulio Castellanos (24th, 29:23), Justin Briante (27th, 29:35), Jesus Rojas (28th, 29:37), Alejandro Montes (34th, 30:42). Also finishing were Anton Thauer (29:30), Brandon Ceh (31:45), and Larry Byrd (32:15). There were 71 finishers.

The men’s team finished fourth in the 10-team championship at St. James Farm in Warrenville hosted by College of DuPage.

The Cyclones also finished fourth out of seven teams in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship. This year for the first time both championships were combined into one race.

Khazneh, Anthony Briante and Palac were named to the All-Conference team with their fifth-, eighth- and 10th-place finishes, respectively. Castellanos crossed the line in 21st with Thauer in 22nd, Justin Briante in 25th, Rojas in 26th, Montes in 31st, Ceh in 36th, and Byrd in 37th out of 49 conference finishers.

“Our guys gave it their all, and we’re proud of their effort. Congratulations to Yousef, Anthony and Dawid—they are very deserving of their regional and conference achievement, and they will represent their teammates and Moraine Valley very well at nationals,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer.

“Dawid is a two-time All-Region, All-Conference selection and national qualifier. Considering where he was back in August when he had to battle through a serious illness that gave him less than two months to prepare for Saturday, there isn’t enough praise I can give him,” Horstmeyer said.

“Anthony worked really hard over the summer, and it paid off for him. His first trip to nationals will be a memorable experience, and I’m really pleased for him,” his coach said. “Yousef has been our number one guy most of the season, and has done everything we have asked of him. I couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishment.”

October 20, 2014

Cyclones turn in ‘best’ showing

The Cyclones were challenged by their coaches to use the highly competitive University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh AAE Invitational on Oct. 18 at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne to their advantage, and they responded, finishing 37th among 45 teams.

Anthony Briante led the Moraine Valley assault taking 378th place in 27:47. He was followed across the line by Braulio Castellanos (421st, 28:12), Yousef Khazneh (442nd, 28:22), Dawid Palac (453rd, 28:31), Justin Briante (498th, 29:01), Jesus Rojas (523rd, 29:26), Alejandro Montes (553rd, 30:02), Anton Thauer (560th, 30:15), Sergio Villareal (601st, 31:51), Brandon Ceh (605th, 32:06), and Larry Byrd (613th, 32:24). There were 664 runners in the field.

“Most of our guys are veterans of these big races, so the coaches challenged them to step up—take advantage of the fast course and the very competitive field and get after it. They did. Many of them turned in personal bests. We’re pleased with how they responded,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer.

But they have no time to rest on their performance. The regular season ended in Oshkosh, and now they face their ultimate test at the combined Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and NJCAA Region 4 Division I championships on Saturday. “We have been pointing toward the championship since we started Aug. 1. The guys have worked hard over the last three months, and their response at Oshkosh demonstrated that. We will be in the mix on Saturday,” Horstmeyer said.

October 6, 2014

Cyclones turn in top 5 performance at Warrior Invitational

The Cyclones found their focus in the cold and wind on Oct. 5 as they finished fifth of 16 teams at the Warrior Invitational hosted by Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Yousef Khazneh led the way over the challenging 8K course in Greenfield Park in West Allis with an 18th place finish in 28:12. Anthony Briante followed in 23rd in 28:27 with other strong finishes by Braulio Castellanos (29th in 28:52), Dawid Palac (36th in 29:02), Justin Briante (50th in 29:59), Jesus Rojas (58th in 30:38), Anton Thauer (63rd in 30:55), Alejandro Montes (72nd in 31:15), and Larry Byrd (92nd in 32:23). There were 136 finishers.

“We had a good morning. The guys responded to our challenge,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer. “We told them they underachieved at Augustana College last weekend, and they needed to come out and make a statement. They did that. It was a real confidence booster for them.”

The Cyclones now take a week off from racing to start their preparation for the conference and regional championships just three weeks ahead. Their final regular season contest will be at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Oct. 18. “This is a great tune-up for our conference and regional championships. UW-Oshkosh is hosting the NCAA Division III regional, so a lot of top teams and individuals show up to get familiar with the course before their competition. There will be teams from nine states toeing the line. It’s a lot of fun for our men to be a part of this invite.”

September 29, 2014

Cyclones battle heat, fatigue at Augustana

The Cyclones had to not only deal with an outstanding competitive field but also the heat, and in the end struggled across the finish line in 33rd place out of 38 teams on Sept. 26 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational hosted by Augustana College in Rock Island.

Yousef Khazneh led the way in 173rd place in 27:50 followed by Braulio Castellanos (272nd, 29:02), Anthony Briante (283rd, 29:17), Justin Briante (356th, 30:27), Anton Thauer (363rd, 30:34), Dawid Palac (370th, 30:43), Alejandro Montes (400th, 31:24), Sergio Villareal (430th, 32:20), Larry Byrd (458th, 33:38), and Jesus Rojas (465th, 33:50). There were 532 finishers in the 8K race.

“This was an extremely competitive race and a fast course,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer. “We were looking for an opportunity to see how we stacked up half-way through the season. Unfortunately, I think the hot weather took a toll, especially as the race wore on. It’s not an excuse—it was very hot for everyone, and we didn’t handle it as well as we should have.”

The men head north to West Allis, Wisconsin, on Saturday to compete at the Warrior Invitational hosted by Wisconsin Lutheran College. “This is a challenging course, but it’s nothing that we don’t experience every day in our training. The weather forecast calls for cooler temperatures, so it will be a good opportunity for the guys to rebound. They’re up to the task,” their coach said.

September 22, 2014

Cyclones continue to set bar higher

The Cyclones continued to show progress in some areas of their second 8K race of the season as they finished 12th of 15 teams on Sept. 20 at the Gil Dodds Invitational hosted by Wheaton College.

Yousef Khazneh led the assault over the altered 8,045-meter course at St. James Farm in Warrenville in 75th in 28:06. Following him were Anthony Briante in 87th in 28:25, Braulio Castellanos in 112th in 29:00, Justin Briante in 147th in 30:14, Alejandro Montes in 162nd in 30:59, Dawid Palac in 172nd in 31:32, Anton Thauer in 175th in 31:44, and Larry Byrd in 190th in 32:43. There were 225 finishers. The course was altered due to a construction project at the forest preserve.

“We were faster at the front and slower at the back from a week ago,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer, “So our four through seven guys have to push harder. Their spacing was not as good as at Illinois Intercollegiates, but we expect that to change next week. The guys work hard, and we now have to convince them that when adversity strikes during the race they are very capable of dealing with it. We continue to be pleased with the way they finish and that will get better as well. Overall, a good outing but with potential for lots of improvement.”

The men travel on Friday to the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational hosted by Augustana College. “This is our first time at Augie in several years, and we’re excited about competing there. The field is big and fast as is the course, and our guys can take advantage of both. This will be a lot of fun,” Horstmeyer said.

September 15, 2014

Cyclones accomplish task at Illinois Intercollegiates

The Cyclones turned in a negative performance Sept. 12 at the Illinois Intercollegiate Cross Country Championship hosted by Olivet Nazarene University, but that was a good thing.

Anthony Briante led the attack over the 8K course, finishing 91st out of 158 in 28:54 while Yousef Khazneh was just behind in 93rd in 28:58. Following him were Braulio Castellanos (99th, 29:14), Justin Briante (110th, 30:00), Brandon Ceh (113th, 30:05), Anton Thauer (114th, 30:18), Alejandro Montes (119th, 30:46), Dawid Palac (126th, 31:02), Jesus Rojas (129th, 31:28), Sergio Villareal (130th, 31:31), and Larry Byrd (142nd, 33:15). Their effort produced a 12th place finish out of 14 teams.

“This was their first 8K since they got washed out last week, and we stressed running controlled and together. They accomplished that. We also liked the way they ran negative splits which is what we have been emphasizing. In this case a negative is a positive. They finished strong and showed what they’re capable of doing now. They raised the bar,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer.

The men head to the Gil Dodds Invitational hosted by Wheaton College on Saturday. “We’re looking forward to continued improvement, of course, but more importantly consistency and closing the gap between each other. They are very capable of doing both,” Horstmeyer said. “This will be the guys’ opportunity to race on the course where our conference and regional championships will be held.”

September 5, 2014

Cyclones ranked

The Cyclones are among the best in the nation after the first week of competition. The men are ranked 22nd in the first 2014 NJCAA Division I poll. “We’re pleased that we have been recognized, and we’ll use it as added motivation to continue to work hard,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer.

September 2, 2014

Cyclones start season on the right foot

The Runnin’ Cyclones got off to a good start at their initial 2014 outing on Friday, Aug. 29, at Elmhurst College’s Early Bird Invitational, finishing eighth among 13 teams.

Yousef Khazneh led his teammates over the 6K course in 21:03 and a 40th place finish out of 164 runners. Following him were Anthony Briante (46th, 21:21), Justin Briante (75th, 22:19), Braulio Castellanos (85th, 22:40), Alejandro Montes (108th, 23:46), Brandon Ceh (111th, 23:55), Sergio Villarreal (120th, 24:29), Jesus Rojas (124th, 24:42), and Anton Thauer (125th, 24:47).

“We had a good race. We stressed finishing strong, and they accomplished that. We’re pleased with their first effort,” said Coach Mark Horstmeyer. “They learned a lot, and that’s what the early part of the season is all about.”

The men travel to the Midwest Classic at Olivet Nazarene University on Friday to take on their first 8K challenge. “We’re looking forward to seeing where our guys are in their first 8K competition. It should be a fun race and an eye-opener for our first-year guys,” their coach said.

August 28, 2014

Experienced Cyclones ready to tear up some courses in 2014

The 2014 Cyclones can be summed up in one word: “EXPERIENCED.” All but one runner from last year returns, and the two new runners are veterans in their own right.

In 2013 the men finished third at the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship and three members qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association championship. Of the three, conference runner-up and All-Region IV first team selection Dawid Palac (Reavis) and All-Region IV third team runner Brandon Ceh (Evergreen Park) return and will be counted on heavily to score for the Cyclones.

“We are expecting big things from Dawid and Brandon as they are themselves. Both have been through the wars and achieved success last year. Now they have to use what they learned to reach even higher. They are very capable of doing that,” said Mark Horstmeyer, who returns in his 15th year as coach.

Also expected to be a significant contributor is Anthony Briante (Evergreen Park). If commitment, dedication and hard work are any indication of future success, “Anthony will be outstanding. He really put in the miles this summer and continues to work hard every day. We are expecting great things from him this year, and he is up to the challenge,” Horstmeyer said.

The newest members of the team also will have a huge impact on this season’s fortunes. Yousef Khazneh (Richards) and Braulio Castellanos (Reavis) have a wealth of high school and track experience. “Yousef ran all summer—he has high aspirations for this season. If what he has shown us so far is any indication, he will have an outstanding season,” Horstmeyer said. “Braulio will be very solid for us, and that’s what we need. He has shown us consistency and improvement, and that’s what we want out of him.”

Shoring up the Cyclone effort this season are returnees Justin Briante (Evergreen Park), Anton Thauer (St. Rita), Alejandro Montes (Eisenhower), Jesus Rojas (Eisenhower), Sergio Villarreal (St. Laurence) and Larry Byrd (Evergreen Park). “We have really been impressed with the way Justin and Alejandro have prepared for this season. They have put in a lot of miles over the summer, and that will really help us and them to accomplish our mission. We are really pleased with their focus. Sergio is battle-tested, and we will need that experience to help bring along our new guys. He’s been working hard, and we need to have him turn in solid performances week after week,” Horstmeyer said. “Anton came on really strong at the end of last season when it counted the most, and we think he is capable of accomplishing a lot more. Jesus was hampered by illness at the wrong time of the season last year, but we think he’ll be ready to help us this year. He is determined. Larry needs to continue to improve. He showed by the end of last year that he is capable of making that commitment to do whatever it takes to reach his goals and meet our expectations.”

The focus and experience of this squad can only lead to a successful season. “We have been very pleased with what we have seen in the early going. Our returnees know the ropes, but most importantly they know what they have to do this season in training and in races to accomplish even greater things. They are up to the task. Our new guys are showing us that they too are committed to doing all they can to make this season memorable. This will be a fun group of guys to watch and see how they use their experience to reach even greater heights,” their coach said.