1972 Track and Field Team (2001)
The 1972 Track and Field Team commands a place in any conversation regarding the truly great teams in Loyola history. Whether it was Loyola's greatest track team is arguable, but certainly it is among the handful or so of elite Rambler track teams of the last forty years. Clearly beyond dispute is the 1972 team's record of accomplishment. Undefeated in thirteen dual meets and Catholic League champions both indoor and outdoor, Loyola's track men won everything there was to win in the spring of 1972. Guided by the legendary coach Frank Amato (Hall of Fame, 1990) and assistants Bob Beuter, S.J. and Art Morelli, and led by captain Tim Schlax, stars Carey Brunelli, John Geisen, and Doug Smith, Loyola dominated the Catholic League Indoor meet and swept through the outdoor season. Victory at the Brother Rice Relays, in which the team took six first places in twelve events, sent the Ramblers into the Catholic League Outdoor championship with quiet confidence. However, they knew that this was neither a dual nor a relay meet, where superior depth always carried the day. The outdoor championship, which included 11 teams competing in 12 individual events and 14 overall, would require outstanding performances from both the stars and the supporting cast. Without quality marks, the points simply would not add up. With one of its top senior leaders, miler Tom McDermott (4:32), out of the meet with illness, Loyola knew the job would be even tougher. Merely good would not be good enough. Loyola began the day true to form, but by the middle of the meet, the signs were ominous. Disqualifications in two events had taken away certain points and left Coach Amato with an uneasy feeling. He called his team to an infield meeting and laid it on the line: They would get no breaks today from the meet officials. They were in a hole. They had to reach down deep and find the performances of their lives. The very next event - the 880 yard run - saw the momentum shift. The expected showdown between Loyola's Brunelli and Rice's Bikus wasn't even close as Brunelli's 1:56 blew him away. But it was Joe Sullivan coming out of nowhere to clip Bikus at the wire for second that catapulted the Ramblers on their way to the title, 56.5 points to runner-up Brother Rice's 51.5 points. Outstanding performances? Loyola turned in 11 personal bests when it counted most and scored in 11 of 14 events. The heroes that day were many. MVP Carey Brunelli (Hall of Fame, 1999) took two titles in a tough double, winning the 880 yard run (1:56.9) and then the 440 yard dash (49.7). Steve Osmanski won the high jump (6' 2"). Sprinter John Giesen placed second in the 100 yard dash (9.9), and took thirds in the 220 yard dash (22.9) and the long jump (20' 3.5"). Junior Doug Smith (Hall of Fame, 1985) doubled with second places in the mile (4:29) and the two mile (10:04). Sean O'Connor was second in the pole vault (11' 6") as was Joe Sullivan in the 880 (1:59.9). Captain Tim Schlax ran third in the 440 (52.1) and Jim Basile third in the two mile (10:05). Rounding out the scoring in a meet in which every point was significant, Sherm Reynolds took a fourth in the pole vault (10' 0"), Fran Mastrianni fifth in the mile (4:36) and Steve Semkowicz fifth in the shot put (43' 11.5"). Combining great talent, balance, depth, the 1972 Track and Field Team extended a streak of 38 straight dual meets, completed Loyola's third consecutive undefeated season, and captured a third consecutive Catholic League championship. In doing so, it took its proper place in the Loyola track dynasty of the early 70's and in the history of Loyola track and field.