With only one returning runner, the Moraine Valley Community College men’s cross country team had plenty of unknowns for the 2023 season, yet they captured a fourth consecutive conference title, earned honors and sent two runners to nationals.

The highlight of the season for Head Coach Dimitri Dimizas, finishing his eighth year at the helm, was retaining the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference title for a fourth straight year.

“It was a rocky season. At the start, I kept expectations low because of all the new people. I wasn’t sure how they’d handle the 8K distance,” he said. “As they began to improve, we started to set higher goals and expectations. Just as things started to look good, injuries derailed any plans we had for the postseason. However, we were still quite successful, especially another conference title.”

The 2023 Moraine Valley Community College men’s cross country team.

The 2023 Moraine Valley Community College men’s cross country team.

The Cyclones earned the conference championship, Dimizas was Skyway Coach of the Year, and four runners earned Skyway honors: Jack Kajmowicz (Lockport), who was Skyway Runner of the Year, Andrew Sima (Shepard), who finished second overall, Demario Angarita (Nazareth Academy) and Joel Vargas-Cortes (Argo). At the NJCAA Region 4 Championship, the Cyclones took fourth as a team with Kajmowicz and Sima qualifying to run at the NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championship in Huntsville, Alabama.

The duo ran at nationals on Nov. 11 with Kajmowicz earning a personal best and placing 95th out of 291 runners across the country. Sima was seconds shy of a record, crossing the line in 139th place.

“Jack leaves Moraine Valley as one of the most accomplished runners we’ve ever had. He’s one of only three people to be part of two conference championship teams, win an individual conference title and be All-Conference and All-Region both years,” Dimizas said. “What I’ll remember most will be his attitude and demeanor. The best person on your team isn’t always a leader, but Jack was even if he didn’t realize it. He got along with everyone, and everyone got along with him. He helped guide his new teammates and was often a positive voice when things got hard. I’m excited he’s made the choice to continue his running and look forward to everything he’ll accomplish.”

Kajmowicz, the lone sophomore, will transfer to Governors State University in January, where he’ll continue his studies and running.

“Andrew had a great first year for us, and he’s hungry for more individual and team success next year. I have no doubt he’ll do what he needs to do this offseason to make next year even more memorable,” Dimizas noted.

Angarita is still growing in this sport, but his work ethic and willingness to learn will be an asset next year. “Demario‘s determination is rare. I’m glad he was able to earn All-Conference honors but know he expects much more in the future,” Dimizas said.

Vargas-Cortes has potential and a unique understanding of the sport. “He earned All-Conference honors this year while dealing with injuries, but as long as he stays healthy, I expect even bigger things from him,” Dimizas noted.

Noah Rigoni-Kreczmer (Stagg) has solid work ethic and was progressing before a sprained ankle ended his season early. Once he gets healthy, he’ll become a big part of what the team wants to accomplish.

Robert Slezak (Oak Lawn) showed more growth in three months than anyone else Dimizas can remember. “He wants to keep improving, and it’s going to be fun seeing what he does this upcoming year,” he added.

Nate Diaz (Oak Lawn) also had his season cut short due to an injury and never had a chance to tap into his potential. He understands what he needs to do for next season.

Dimizas is in recruitment mode. He should have most of the team back next season and some newbies to help make another championship run.

“Jack is done at Moraine Valley, but I’m very excited with the potential of everyone coming back,” Dimizas said. “We need to add a few pieces, but next year can be one of the best seasons ever.”

For updates on Cyclones Athletics, visit mvcyclones.com.


For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or Vizzam@morainevalley.edu.