1982 Cross Country Team (2000)
The 1982 season produced one of the greatest cross country teams in Loyola's history. This team enjoyed a season of success unmatched by any Loyola team since the Catholic League's entry into IHSA competition. The 1982 Cross Country Team was the first Rambler squad to capture a Regional title, the first to capture a Sectional title, and the first to qualify for the State Finals. Its 11th place finish at the State championship meet remains Loyola's highest finish ever. With Coach Doug Berger at the helm, five outstanding seniors led the way - Tom FitzGibbon, Dan Lyne, Paul Matz, Jim Slingo, and Bob Winter. They were joined on the starting seven by two fine juniors - John Gatti, and Javier Nunez. Coach Berger and his harriers understood that any cross country team aspiring to greatness would need more than just strong runners. They realized that the true strength of a great team lies in its ability to run as a tight pack, with no more than a 30-second split between the first and fifth scorers. In short, only through teamwork can one create a great team. Through the leadership of captains FitzGibbon, Garippo, and Lyne, preparation for the 1982 campaign started months before the fall season. It began in the hot days and nights of summer. Encouraged by Coach Berger, the team formed a summer running group - the Deer-Chasers - and began to chase their dream. It was a close group of runners that met all summer long, sometimes at unorthodox times and in unorthodox places. But meet they did, and the mileage started to build up, and the dream began to take shape. Loyola performed extremely well during the regular season, with two second places and a third place in major invitationals, and Berger knew he had something. The Catholic League was unusually strong, with three powerful teams - St. Ignatius, Gordon Tech, and Loyola - vying for the League title in the post-season. It was a brutal confrontation. Loyola ran strongly as a pack, and emerged with a runner-up finish and confidence high for the State series. The next three weeks were magical: a Regional title, a Sectional title, and a State Final berth. The 1982 Cross Country team had chased its dream, and run it down.