1984 Track and Field Team (2003)
Recapturing some of the magic that had eluded it since their four straight outdoor titles in the early 70s, Loyola's 1984 Track and Field Team captured the first Catholic League championship in eleven years on the newly-christened lanes circling Sachs Stadium. Guided by Coach Frank Amato (Hall of Fame, 1990), the Ramblers coupled balance with depth to stake their claim on the winners circle once again and their rightful place in the Athletic Hall of Fame. A six-point margin of victory over arch-rival Mendel in the Catholic League indoor championship left the Loyola thinclads hopeful but not complacent heading into the outdoor campaign. In those days, the indoor championship was a relay meet, where depth was always king, easily trumping individual heroics. Not so in the outdoor meet, in which fourteen of the eighteen events were individual competitions. A victory in the opening running event, the 3200-meter relay set the stage for the Ramblers journey to the title. The team of Tom Nugent, Josh Van Hulst, Mike Doyle, and co-captain John Gatti ran a superb 8:00.7 to ignite Loyola's charge. The teams only other individual titles came from Mike O'Brien in the long jump (209") and Mike Durham in the shot put (548"). Thereafter, depth ruled the day, with Loyola getting double-scorers in four events. A one-two finish in the long jump early in the meet was pivotal psychologically, with Joe LaGuardia backing up O'Briens win with a 20 jump of his own. Early points also came in the pole vault, as Matt Brennan took third (12) and Tom Clohisy sixth (11). In the 3200 meters, Javier Nunez took second (9:44.6) while Bob Tarjan came in fifth (10:08.9). The distance men came through again in the 1600 meters, with Nunez claiming fourth (4:31.4) and Gatti fifth (4:35.2). Loyola and Mendel remained neck-and-neck as three more Ramblers grabbed vital second-place points in their respective events. MVP Josh Van Hulst ran a fine 2:01 in the 800-meter run, Dave Smith jumped 6' in the high jump, and late in the meet Durham threw 1365" in the discus, further boosting the team total. LaGuardia added a third place in the triple jump (414") and co-captain Spencer Cotten (Hall of Fame, 1998) sprinted to fourth in the 100-meter dash to close out the individual scoring. The sprint relays did their part as well: Claude Jacob, O'Brien, Brennan, and Cotten took fourth in the 400-meter relay while Mike Endre, Jacob, O'Brien, and Cotten garnered a fifth in the 800- relay. Clutching a 4 1/2 point lead over Mendel heading into the final event on the track, Loyola needed to finish close to the Monarchs in the 1600-meter relay to ensure its crown. A critical fifth place from Joe Farrelly, Dan Gramins, Chris Carley, and Paul Gleixner locked the meet down as Mendel failed to score. One week later at the State Sectional meet, eight Ramblers qualified for the State Meet, led by Nunez with a victory in the 3200 (9:23.4), followed by Smith in the high jump (64 3/4), Durham in the shot put (56 2 3/4"), O'Brien in the long jump (2110"), and the quartet of Nugent, Doyle, Van Hulst, and Gatti in the 3200-meter relay. During the 1984 season, five school records were set in three events: John Gatti in the indoor 1000-yard run (2:21.8), Mike Durham in the shot put (56 8 3/4" indoors and 56 2 3/4" outdoors), and Dave Smith in the high jump (65" indoors and 64 3/4" outdoors). Through the superior talent of the few and the collective will of the many, the 1984 team has earned its place among the elite teams in Loyola track and field history, and is justly celebrated for its championship season.