The 2017 Cyclone men’s cross country team is fast. Faster than last season when they won the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference after a 12-year dry spell. With some top runners back along with speedy newcomers, the team is confident in a repeat performance.

For the first time in Cyclone history, both the men’s and women’s teams won the Skyway championship in the same year—2016—which also was Coach Dimitri Dimizas’ first year leading the programs after five years as assistant coach. Jordi Rangel (Eisenhower) ran the fastest conference meet time on record for the men’s program and was named Skyway Runner of the Year before competing at the national tournament. He’s back this season and in even better shape. “Jordi is on a mission. He wants to be the first to repeat as Skyway champ and be our first region champ from Moraine Valley,” Dimizas said. “He also wants to break the school record for the 8K [26:58].”

Rangel is leading the way for the talented squad that includes Mark Harris (Lincoln-Way North) and Lou Cavalier (Sandburg), his teammates who competed with him at nationals. Dimizas also has a few freshmen who will contend for the top spots—David Alvarez (Sandburg), Diego Arana (Oak Lawn) and David Nino (Lincoln-Way East). Add to that the remaining eight runners, and the Cyclones are in good shape.

“This freshmen class might be the best we’ve had. Last year was the best until this group, so combined they’ll be good,” Dimizas said. “We have a lot more depth than last year, so if we have injuries, we have strength 10-deep who can mix in the top seven spots. The guys are driven, especially the ones who went through it last year and the guys who ran at nationals. It’s a determined group.”

That collective speed gives Dimizas confidence that his guys can bring home a second straight conference championship plus an NJCAA Region IV championship and team trip to nationals.