1996 Women's Track & Field Team (2011)
After thirty-five seasons at the helm of the men's track and field program Coach Frank Amato took the reins of the young Ramblers women's team. Words such as tradition, excellence, and champion did not yet apply to this group of athletes. As the season began in the frozen, bitter days of January, when these athletes were forced to gut it out on the icy roads or in the cramped second floor hallways, no one yet knew how the season would play out. When the warmth of May arrived, and with it the championship meets, the Ramblers established themselves as champions in every sense of the word. Spurred by the leadership of senior captain and future Hall of Famer Mia Seul (HOF, 2007), the 1996 team established what would become the standard of excellence in Women's Track and Field. Led by only two seniors, the team was made up largely of underclassmen with little experience on the track. A glance at the team banquet program lists future champions who, during this inaugural season, would make names for themselves. Juniors Samantha Lading, Kristine Larsen and Rebekah Ranchero helped lead the way in jumps and distance events. Sophomores Caroline Delaney and Nellie Brennan covered a range of events, from the 400-meter dash to 3200-meter run. The most unexpected support, however, came from the freshman class. Distance specialist Stephanie Minasian challenged the GCAC conference in the ultimate distance double of the 3200-meter and 1600-meter races, while Lauren Cerney (HOF, '10) blazed the track in the sprints and hurdles. Not simply satisfied with winning the school's first conference title, the Ramblers made a statement at the IHSA Sectional meet the following week. Led by a gutsy performance in bad weather, senior Mia Seul became the school's first sectional title holder, winning in the 400-meter dash. The most amazing performance of the season, however, came from the 1600-meter relay, a foursome exemplified the 1996 team. Leading off was freshman Lauren Cerney, who then handed the baton to sophomore Caroline Delaney. Junior Kristine Larsen took the third leg before she passed the stick to the anchor, senior Mia Seul, whose speed and heart guaranteed victory. One week later, Seul would go on to finish 14th at the IHSA state championship in the 400-meter dash and anchor the 1600-meter relay team, which blazed to an 18th place finish. Loyola had found its first champions. The 1996 Track and Field Team began Loyola's period of dominance in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference. Members of this first squad established school and meet records to be sure, but their most lasting legacy was the tradition of championship success they brought to the Maroon and Gold on the track and in the field.