February 25, 2013
Runners honored for academic performance
Four members of the cross country team
earned 2012 Academic All-NJCAA honors from the National Junior College Cross
Country Coaches Association for their outstanding work in the classroom.
Phil Culbertson, Rich Ferneau, Aaron Spengler, and Diana Dinh were
recognized for academic achievement for the fall 2012 semester. Culbertson
also earned the honor in 2011.
In addition, the men’s team earned Academic All-NJCAA Team designation,
ranking 18th among Division I colleges. Culbertson, Ferneau, Spengler, Adam
Gurke, and Eugene Rivera comprised the academic team.
The women’s team also earned recognition as the 24th ranked team in Division
I. This is the first time that both teams have been ranked in the top 25 in
the same season.
The Moraine Valley cross country program has fielded 36 Academic
All-Americans/Academic since the program was reinstituted in 2000.
“These scholar-athletes are simply outstanding. They attend class full time,
work part time, and excel as athletes and students. 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
November 13, 2012
Cyclones gain experience in 2012
The 2012 Moraine Valley cross country season ended
Nov. 10 at the NJCAA national championship the way it began—with bright
Three Cyclones competed in the championship with sophomore Phil
Culbertson (Stagg) leading the way as he has done all season
followed by freshmen Ryan Altman (Sandburg) and
Thomas Cira (Brother Rice), both of whom will be called upon to
provide leadership in the 2013 campaign.
Culbertson capped a two-year stint as a harrier with All-Region IV honors, a
spot in the national championship, and a record-setting performance during
the season. “Phil is one of the hardest workers we have ever had, and his
dedication to his sport paid off for him this year,” said Mark Horstmeyer,
who completed his 13th year as head coach. “Phil loves to run and his
passion helped him succeed this year. We are very proud of his
accomplishments, and he definitely will help out at the next level wherever
that may be.”
Altman and Cira had solid first-years and gained a lot of experience that
will help them prepare for next fall. “If they do the work in the long
off-season, and I believe they will, they will be ready to pick up where
they left off this year and move quite a ways forward,” Horstmeyer said. “We
will really be looking for them to lead the team in 2013.”
Also finishing their two-year stint as Cyclones were Adam Gurke
(Reavis) and Rich Gray (Stagg). “We really appreciated
Adam’s leadership this year. He is an extremely hard worker, and it’s
unfortunate that injuries prevented him from maximizing his potential this
year. He will be an asset, however, next year if he chooses to continue his
running. For two years, Richie brought a lot of enthusiasm and a positive
attitude every day to practice. Injuries and illness unfortunately hampered
his progress this year, but we expect him to really contribute at the next
level when he’s healthy and fit,” Horstmeyer said.
Gaining experience this year were Eisenhower grads Milton Estrada
and Eugene Rivera, Rich Ferneau (Stagg),
Aaron Spengler (Sandburg), and Sergio Villarreal
(St. Laurence). “They gained a lot of knowledge of college racing and the
preparation it takes to compete week in and week out,” their coach said.
“They were slowed by knee problems off and on during the season, so that cut
into their training. If they get healthy and dedicate themselves to building
a strong base during the off-season, they can really help us next year. We
will give them the support they need, but in the end it’s up to them to
commit time and energy to improving. If they do, they will realize a lot of
success and be a force for us next fall,” Horstmeyer said.
November 12, 2012
Cyclones turn in solid effort at NJCAA
Phil Culbertson, Ryan Altman and Thomas Cira
represented the running Cyclones at the NJCAA championship at Rend Lake
College on Nov. 10, and turned in solid results.
Culbertson finished 186th in 29:47 followed by Altman (233rd, 30:56) and
Cira (234th, 30:58) over the windy and warm 8K course on the Rend Lake golf
There were 280 finishers. “They did a nice job. The weather was a factor,
and the course was deceptively challenging, so it turned out to be a slow
race for all of the runners,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “I am really proud
of Phil, Ryan and Thomas, and very pleased that they had had this fantastic
opportunity to compete in a national championship. They represented us very
October 29, 2012
Three Cyclones to compete at national
Led by the Cyclones’ three national qualifiers,
Moraine Valley captured fourth place at the NJCAA Region IV Division I Cross
Country Championship on Oct. 27 at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon.
Phil Culbertson led the charge over the 8K course with a 10th-place finish
in 27:55 followed by Ryan Altman (18th, 28:42) and Thomas Cira (20th,
28:52), all first-time national qualifiers. Next across the finish was Adam
Gurke (24th, 29:26), Milton Estrada (36th, 30:30), Aaron Spengler (41st,
31:05), Rich Ferneau (42nd, 31:08), Eugene Rivera (48th, 32:16), and Sergio
Villarreal (50th, 32:39). There were 63 finishers and nine teams.
Culbertson, a sophomore, was named to the All-Region IV Division I team. He,
Altman and Cira will travel to Rend Lake Community College in Ina, Ill., to
compete in the NJCAA championship on Nov. 10.
“I’m really proud of our team as a whole. They gave it their best shot, and
that’s all you can ask for,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “This was a tough
field, and they battled the whole way. They had a really solid finish to
their season and have a lot of motivation going into next fall.”
Horstmeyer had high praise for the Cyclones’ three national qualifiers. “The
way Phil came back from last week’s disappointment at conference was just
great. The icing on the cake was being named to the All-Region team. Ryan
and Thomas hung in there and then just gutted it out at the end. We couldn’t
be happier for them.”
Now they have an opportunity to compete in a national championship—something
few runners get to experience. “They have been pointing to this all season,
and we have two weeks to fine-tune and get them ready to do their best.
We’re excited for them, and extremely pleased they earned this opportunity.
It will be a life-long memory,” Horstmeyer said.
October 22, 2012
Cyclones race to a third-place tie at
One finishing spot made all the difference between
a third-place tie and an outright third-place finish for the Cyclones at the
Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Cross Country Championship on Oct. 20
at Moraine Valley.
Ryan Altman led the way with an 11th place finish out of 46 runners in
27:58. He was followed by Phil Culbertson (12th, 28:18), Tom Cira (13th,
28:24), Adam Gurke (20th, 29:16), Milton Estrada (30th, 30:20), Aaron
Spengler (31st, 30:21), Rich Ferneau (32nd, 30:40), Sergio Villarreal (34th,
31:04), Eugene Rivera (35th, 31:13), and Rich Gray (40th, 32:06).
“All we needed was one higher spot, and we would have clinched third place
all to ourselves,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “I saw a lot of effort out
there, however, so some good things came out of it. We packed it in again
with our top three finishers going 11, 12 and 13, and we had a nice fifth,
sixth and seventh finish. So now we have to get those three guys to close
the gap with our first four.”
They will have another shot on Saturday at the NJCAA Region IV Division I
Championship at Sauk Valley Community College on Oct. 27 when the men will
try to qualify for the national championship Nov. 10.
“There will be three quality teams added to the conference teams, so we
definitely have to do everything we can to pack it in and hope for the
best,” Horstmeyer said. “We saw some positives at conference, and we hope
that will carry over into regionals.”
October 15, 2012
Cyclones slosh through UW-Oshkosh’ Brooks
The Running Cyclones ran to a 32nd place finish
among 38 teams Oct. 13 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Brooks
Invitational in less than ideal conditions that also featured a
Phil Culbertson, as he has done all season, led the way again
finishing 159th out of 506 in record-breaking fashion with a 26:58 clocking. Ryan
Altman was next in 337th in 28:32, followed by Tom Cira (404th, 29:33), Adam Gurke (445th, 30:30), Milton Estrada
(452nd, 30:42), Aaron Spengler (453rd, 30:43),
Rich Ferneau (461st, 31:13), Sergio Villarreal (464th, 31:18), and Eugene Rivera (497th, 34:37).
“Congratulations are in order for Phil for breaking the Moraine Valley men’s all-time
record set back in 2002,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “And the fact that he
did it in horrible weather conditions is even a greater accomplishment.”
The 8K race at the Lake Breeze Golf Course was delayed by 45 minutes because
of lightning and then run in rain, wind and low-40s temperature. “It was a
mess, but overall the guys finished well. We had hoped for more consistency
and better spacing, and we’ll need to have that starting Saturday. So
hopefully they gained experience from what probably will be a memorable race
weather-wise,” their coach said.
The championship season has arrived with the Illinois Skyway Collegiate
Conference championships on Saturday on Moraine Valley’s cross country
course and then the NJCAA Region IV Division I Championships at Sauk Valley
College on Oct. 27 where the men will try to qualify for the national
championship on Nov. 10. “We told the guys that once we started the race
schedule at the end of August, the season would fly by, and it has. We still
have a ways to go, so they will have to start focusing on what they
potentially could accomplish. It should be an exciting time on Saturday,”
October 8, 2012
Cyclones take fifth at Warrior Invitational
The Running Cyclones had an up-and-down outing Oct.
6 at the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warrior Invitational in West Allis,
Wisconsin—literally and figuratively. They finished fifth in a 12-team field
over the hilly 8K course in Greenfield Park.
Phil Culbertson again led the way for Moraine Valley with a 16th place finish
out of 91 in 27:55. He was followed by Ryan Altman (24th, 28:55), Tom Cira
(36th, 29:24), Adam Gurke (37th, 29:25), Milton Estrada (50th, 30:08), Aaron
Spengler (57th, 30:35), Sergio Villarreal (71st, 32:27), Rich Gray (73rd,
32:40), Eugene Rivera (75th, 33:04), and Rich Ferneau (76th, 33:07).
“Like the hills on this course, the guys were up and down with their time and
finish,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “Adam and Tom did a good job sticking
together as did Eugene and Rich Ferneau, but there was too much of a gap between
the other guys. We have been working on getting them to close the gap. If we are
to be successful, we have to do a much better job of packing it in. We’ll get
another crack at this on Saturday at what will be our final tune-up before
The Cyclones travel next to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for the Brooks
Invitational, and Horstmeyer is anticipating a good outing. “This is a great
race, and I know the guys are excited. It is very competitive and many
nationally ranked NAIA and Division III schools will be there. It always makes
for a fast race, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the men can do.”
October 1, 2012
Cyclones increase learning curve with
seventh place finish
The Running Cyclones continued the learning process
on Sept. 28 at the College of DuPage-Puma Invitational at St. James Farm in
Warrenville. Although they had a solid finish—seventh of 11 teams—their results
were mixed; some good and some not so good.
Phil Culbertson once again led the way for Moraine Valley over the 8K course in
ideal weather conditions turning in his best performance of the season so far
with an 18th place finish in a 27:21. He was followed by Tom Cira (50th,
29:03), Adam Gurke (56th, 29:27), Sergio Villarreal (67th, 30:05), Milton
Estrada (69th, 30:11), Ryan Altman (77th, 31:06), Aaron Spengler (78th, 30:07),
Rich Ferneau (85th, 31:52), Rich Gray (90th, 33:22), and Eugene Rivera (96th,
35:47). There were 98 finishers in the field.
“Except for Phil, who lowered his best time, and Sergio, who nailed a personal
best, it wasn’t the result we were looking for, obviously. We were looking to
improve, and in some cases that happened, but in several other cases, we took a
stride or two backwards,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “We know the guys were
disappointed, but I think they learned more about competing and that’s a
positive. There was another positive. We saw guys helping their teammates when
their teammates were struggling. That is a big plus and something that will
really help as we close in on the championship season. We expect them to bounce
back in a big way on a very challenging course on Saturday. It will be exciting
to see what they can do.”
September 24, 2012
Cyclones turn in best performance of young
The Running Cyclones, despite windy and cold
conditions, used a fast field at Wheaton College’s Gil Dodds Invitational on
Sept. 22 to finish ninth in an 11-team field.
Second-year runner Phil Culbertson led the way again, finishing 50th in 27:40.
Ryan Altman turned in his best performance so far with his 55th-place finish in
27:44 as did Tom Cira (87th, 28:22), Milton Estrada (112th, 29:54), Sergio
Villarreal (122nd, 30:57), and Adam Gurke (127th, 31:53). There were 136
“The guys’ performance really brought smiles to their coaches’ faces. They
really showed improvement, and more importantly really demonstrated to us that
they want to improve,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “We had some substantial
PR’s—especially with Ryan, Tom and Sergio. Adam, who is still trying to recover
from a bad cold, gave a really gutty effort, and when he gets healthy, he’ll
make a big contribution.”
Horstmeyer cautioned, however, “We have a long ways to go, and we still have to
get better. We’re back at St. James Farms on Friday, and the race will give us a
much clearer idea of where we stand with a month to go. They are coming
together, and we really like the direction they’re going. We’ll need them to
continue to understand what they have to get done to raise the level of their
performance even higher.”
September 17, 2012
Cyclones show improvement at Intercollegiates
The Running Cyclones took advantage of decent racing
weather on Sept. 14 at the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships hosted by
Illinois State University, placing 28th of 36 teams representing colleges and
universities in all NCAA divisions, NAIA and community colleges in the state.
Second-year runner Phil Culbertson led the way again, finishing 196th out of 329
runners in 27:37. Ryan Altman was next in 251st in 29:03, followed by Tom Cira
in 258th in 29:13, Adam Gurke in 268th in 29:40, Milton Estrada in 279th in
30:03, Aaron Spengler in 289th in 30:25, Rich Gray in 310th in 32:03, and Sergio
Villarreal in 318th in 32:58.
“I’m really pleased with the job Phil did. It was our fastest individual
performance at ISU, and it was a personal best for him. He will continue to drop
his time,” said coach Mark Horstmeyer. “Overall, we showed improvement, and at
this point in the season this is what we want. We just have to keep working
hard. We’re lagging in our fitness level, but we have a long ways to go, and I
think the guys will step up their competitiveness. We have smaller-sized races
coming up, and this will give us a good chance to work on that.”
September 10, 2012
Cyclones take on weather, first full-length
Despite the rain and lightning-delayed start, the
"Running Cyclones" continued to move forward in their first 8K of the season on
Sept. 7 at the Midwest Classic XC Invitational hosted by Olivet Nazarene
University, finishing ninth of 10 teams.
"I'm pleased with the progress the guys showed. They didn't let the rain nor the
delay distract them from focusing on what we were trying to accomplish," said
coach Mark Horstmeyer. "We had five freshmen take on their first 8K race, and it
was an eye-opener for them as most of the time it is. I know they're not
satisfied with their results, but they should be satisfied that they are making
progress, and that's what we want right now."
The Cyclones once again were led by Phil Culbertson (Stagg) with a 49th place
finish in 28:45. Ryan Altman (Sandburg) was next across the finish line in 72nd
in 29:42, followed by Adam Gurke (Reavis) in 78th in 30:09, Tom Cira (Brother
Rice) in 79th in 30:10, Aaron Spengler (Sandburg) in 95th in 31:48, Sergio
Villarreal (St. Laurence) in 98th in 31:58, and Rich Gray (Stagg) in 101st in
32:27. There were 112 finishers over the rolling Aspen Ridge Golf Club course in
"We need to continue running a tighter race—they did a really nice job of
controlling their start. As the younger guys gain experience, they will
understand more and more how much easier it gets when they run with each other.
They are all capable of doing that," their coach said.
They will have a great opportunity this Friday when they compete at the Illinois
Intercollegiate Championship at Illinois State University. "This will be a fun
and learning experience for the guys. They will compete with some of the top
Division I and III teams in the state as well as in the nation. It will be fast.
It will be fun to watch the team get in there and mix it up," Horstmeyer said.
September 3, 2012
Cyclones meet heat challenge
The running Cyclones withstood the muggy weather
Aug. 31 at the Elmhurst College Early Bird Invitational, finishing 11th in the
18-team field to get their 2012 season underway.
Phil Culbertson (Stagg) led the way with a 51st place finish in 20:48 over the
breezy and steamy 6K course in Eldridge Park. He was followed across the line by
Tom Cira (Brother Rice) in 83rd place in 22:12, Adam Gurke (Reavis) in 89th in
22:31, Milton Estrada (Eisenhower) in 98th in 22:59, Aaron Spengler (Sandburg)
in 120th in 23:42, Sergio Villarreal (St. Laurence) in 123rd in 23:56, and Rich
Gray (Stagg) in 140th in 25:04. There were 168 finishers.
“I was pleased with our effort—given the fact that it was in the high 80s and
extremely humid, and this was the first college race for most of the guys,” said
coach Mark Horstmeyer. “Phil and Tom ran a smart race—they did what we asked
them to do—and we’re really pleased with their results.”
Overall the first race of the season yielded a productive start. "There were
more positives than negatives. Our plan was not to run personal records but to
begin understanding what it takes to work together. We need to continue working
on that," Horstmeyer said. "We’re off to a good start, and we’ll learn more
about ourselves on Friday when they will race their first 8K distance. Should be
August 28, 2012
Newcomers expected to bolster Cyclones success
The Running Cyclones return the core of their squad which has some scores to
settle from last year’s near misses. In order to accomplish that, they will need
contributions quickly from the newcomers.
Returning from last year’s second-place conference and third-place regional team
is Phil Culbertson (Stagg), Adam Gurke (Reavis) and
Rich Gray (Stagg). Adding to
that mix are newcomers Ryan Altman (Sandburg), Tom Cira (Brother Rice),
Estrada (Eisenhower), Aaron Spengler (Sandburg), and
Sergio Villarreal (St.
The early signs are pointing in the right direction, according to coach Mark
Horstmeyer. “We like what we see so far: the work ethic is really good and the
desire is strong. They’re beginning to gel as a team. We have a long way to go,
but I’m confident they can get there,” he said.
A lot is expected of Culbertson and Gurke, who was a national qualifier last
year. They are providing the experience for the new guys. “We will rely on them
for leadership. They have a full season of competing at the college and
university level, and they know what we expect of them and what they expect of
themselves,” Horstmeyer said. “We also are looking for Rich to have a breakout
year if we can keep him healthy. He came on really strong at the end of last
season and worked hard over the summer. That kind of dedication will carry him
Altman also will be counted on heavily to contribute, and his coach thinks he is
up to the task. “Ryan came into training camp in good shape, so we have been
able to build on that. Once he gets a couple of college races in him, he’ll know
what he has to do to improve and compete,” Horstmeyer said.
Cira, Estrada, Spengler, and Villarreal all bring high school experience to the
team and have progressed in workouts. “Based on what we have seen so far, we
expect them to provide a solid core. They show great potential, and we want to
help them realize it,” Horstmeyer said.