Accomplishments in and out of the classroom are goals for this year’s Cyclone men’s cross country team, and they have the means to make it a reality.

Last season saw the fastest men’s team in Moraine Valley history as they won their first invitational title, earned an NJCAA Region IV championship and competed at nationals, where their sophomore, Jordi Rangel, finished in the top 100. Rangel and his fellow sophomore speedsters have moved on, but most of last year’s freshmen are back to continue the winning ways.

With their neck-and-neck speed, returners David Alvarez (Sandburg) and Diego Arana (Oak Lawn) want to repeat as All-Region and All-Conference runners as well as become All-Americans. John Donovan (Lincoln-Way East) and Salah Mustafa (Andrew) worked tirelessly in the off season to prepare, with Mustafa adding weight training to his regimen. Ettore Gaytan (Tinley Park) and Justin George (Andrew) are battling injuries, but are familiar with the college racing scene and should contribute once healed. The lone newcomer, Isaiah Flores (Solorio Academy), is dedicated with a strong work ethic. Although he’s inexperienced at this level, the competition and his teammates will prepare him for the races that count most.

When the team talked about their season goals, the consensus was to become scholar All-Americans as well as win conference and region championships, a happy combination for head Coach Dimitri Dimizas, who enters his third season leading the Cyclones.

Dimizas aims to continue the winning tradition of the cross country program by using his tried and true methods. In each of his last two years as head coach and the previous years as assistant, he has had one or both teams earn a region or conference championship and taken runners to nationals. But he’ll make sure his team gets there injury-free.

“Our main focus is health since we only have seven guys. We’ll take extra caution resting them so they’re good by the end of October for the region and conference meet,” Dimizas said. “But this is a good group, and I think they’ll do well.”

He’ll be joined this season by assistant Coach Sarah McCann, who ran two years for the Cyclones. The Cyclones begin competition Friday, Aug. 31 at the Earlybird Invite at Elmhurst College.