1971 Track and Field (2010)
Forty years ago, it was a different time – no million dollar synthetic tracks, no expensive pit systems, no weight rooms, no track spikes weighing about as much as a couple of sheets of paper in this program. It was a different time to be a Rambler track and field athlete. The cinder track had to be raked, rolled, lined, and drained, all by hand. The hurdles and standards were made in the carpenter’s shop by Brother Burr. The racing shoes were too heavy and the funding for equipment was too light. There was no fully automated timing system to record one’s performance to a thousandth of a second. There were only Amato, Bueter, and Morelli and their old-school sweep-hand stopwatches.
In the days before the Catholic schools were allowed to compete against IHSA competition, there was no indoor schedule. Coaches had to be creative. Loyola would run hallway meets at places like Taft and Lakeview, or have intra-squad meets at the Chicago Armory or in the Highland Park basement track on cold Saturday mornings. There was no state meet to prepare for at the end of the season – Catholic school athletes were plenty good enough to compete and win, but couldn’t get in the door. Superior coaching staffs found a way to make it work, however, despite obstacles like lousy facilities and lousy weather, and Loyola was blessed with one of the finest coaching staffs in the state.
The 1971 team was under the watchful care of Head Coach Frank Amato (Hall of Fame, 1990) and his two assistants, Robert Bueter, S.J. (Hall of Fame, 2005) and Art Morelli (Hall of Fame, 2007). It could not get much better than that. With these three men leading the charge, the 1971 Track and Field team dominated Catholic League competition just as its predecessor had. In doing so, it kept alive a streak of nineteen straight dual meet wins while repeating as North Section champions. In the biggest test of the season, the Ramblers repeated as Catholic League champions in a hard-earned, fourteen-point victory.
With Frank Amato handling the sprints and hurdles, Fr. Bob Bueter the field events, and Art Morelli the mid-distance and distance men, the Ramblers brought a well-balanced attack to the track and to the field. Loyola demonstrated strength in all three areas, making it a difficult team to overcome, especially in dual meet competition. The 1971 team was led by team captain and Most Valuable Performer Jim Fahrenbach (Hall of Fame, 2008), top sprinter John Giesen, half-miler Carey Brunelli (Hall of Fame, 1998), long jumper and sprinter Brian Krakora, and shot putter Jim Ruth. Loyola had only four winners that day: Krakora in the long jump, Ruth in the shot put, Brunelli in the half mile and Sean O’Conor in the pole vault. They alone could not decide the outcome, and Loyola’s continued streak as well as the team’s performance in the big CCL showdown depended on the talents of many. Thirteen Loyola athletes were designated as Chicago Catholic League All-Stars for the post-season match-up with the Public League: Gerry Barry, Bill O’Connor, Steve Osmanski, J.D. Culhane, Jim Fahrenbach, Tom Kearney, Jim Pooler, Carey Brunelli, Tim Schlax, John Giesen, Brian Krakora, Jim Ruth, and Sean O’Connor. The 1971 season saw new stadium records set by Giesen in the 100-yard dash (10.0); Ruth in the shot put (51’2”); and Krakora in the long jump (20’7 ½ “). New school records came from Carey Brunelli in the half-mile (1:57.1), Jim Fahrenbach in the 180-yard low hurdles (20.7), Fran Mastroianni in the two-mile (10:01) and Barry, Schlax, Brunelli, and Kearney in the mile relay (3:26.9). Everyone contributed to the success of the ‘71 team. The leaders in points scored for the season were Giesen, Brunelli, and Krakora in the top three, followed in order by a large and diverse group: Fahrenbach, Tom McDermott, O’Conor, Ruth, Kearney, Barry, Mark Fragassi, Schlax, Osmanski, Pooler, O’Connor, Mastroianni, and Bob Happ.
Forty years ago, with an undefeated season and a repeat Catholic League title, the 1971 Track and Field team kept the streak alive and ensured that the newly-built tradition of Rambler dominance on the cinders would continue to grow and prosper. In doing so, in helping to build a tradition of excellence and to nurture a culture of running, the 1971 Track and Field Team made its mark on the program and on the record book honoring the best in Loyola Track and Field history.