Before any races were even run, Cyclone men’s cross country head Coach Dimitri Dimizas knew this would be a fast crew, one that could leave a big mark for Moraine Valley. They did just that.
This was the fastest team in Moraine Valley history, beating out the 2016 runners, and included some talented freshmen.
“We knew this group was going to be good based on our returners, but we also were fortunate enough to add some of the best freshmen that I’ve seen come to Moraine Valley,” said Dimizas, who finished his second year leading the program. “Injuries hit us hard toward the middle of the season, but this group was able to overcome that and reach their goals.”
In September, the Cyclones took first at the Purdue Northwest University Classic, the first invitational title for the program. Despite narrowly falling short at the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship, the Cyclones were able to edge their way to an NJCAA Region IV championship two weeks later. This was only the second region title for the men’s program, giving them an automatic berth to compete at the NJCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Nov. 11.
On the national stage, sophomore Jordi Rangel (Eisenhower) peaked by placing 92nd out of 320 runners, the first time a Cyclone finished in the top 100 in Division I. This was his second time competing at nationals. Collectively, the Cyclones placed 32nd out of 44 teams.
Rangel, along with freshmen David Alvarez (Sandburg) and Diego Arana (Oak Lawn), each earned All-Region and All-Conference honors for their performances. Last season, Rangel was named Skyway Runner of the Year, and this year he broke a school record by a minute in the 8K (25:53). In addition to Rangel, the Cyclones will bid adieu to the “Fab Five” who spent two successful seasons together.
“Jordi has accomplished more in his two years here than any other runner in the men’s program. His place in our history is set. Mark Harris (Lincoln-Way North) and Lou Cavalier (Sandburg) are two-time national qualifiers. They were a big part of our success this season in terms of leadership and personality. Michael Bradley (Mount Carmel) dealt with nagging injuries for most of the season but started to round into form at the end when we needed him. Matt Garza (Argo) improved more than anyone over his two years here, and his commitment will be an example for next year’s group,” Dimizas said. “Whatever these young men decide to do after Moraine Valley, I know they will give it their all.”
The newcomers blended well and balanced out this successful team with not only their running skills but also their hard-work ethic. “Dan Reves (Oak Lawn) came to us with a year of collegiate running experience (Olivet Nazarene University). I wish I could work with him for another year, but he put that wisdom to use and had a good season. Alvarez and Diego are two of the fastest freshmen we’ve ever had, and David Nino (Lincoln-Way East) was a consistent scorer for us throughout the season. Those three will be an important part of whatever success we plan on having next year,” Dimizas said. “Justin George (Andrew), Josh Boyland (Tinley Park), John Donovan (Lincoln-Way East), Salah Mustafa (Andrew), and Ettore Gaytan (Tinley Park) worked hard, and while some had to endure setbacks, they each gained experience that will be invaluable as they prepare for the new season.”