With an all-freshman cross country team came a few unknowns, but what resulted was two Cyclones running at nationals and a few others making significant improvements to bolster the cause next season.
This 2019 crew of runners on the men's team were all experiencing college running for the first time. Although they may not have won any championships, they qualified two for the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championship. Grant Wright and Suhayb Froukh led the way for the Cyclones all season. At the NJCAA Region IV/Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championships, Wright took fifth in the region and second in conference while Froukh was one spot behind his teammate, both earning All-Region and All-Conference honors. That finish allowed them to compete at the Big Dance, where Froukh took 216th place and Wright took 249th out of 343 runners.
"I was happy with the guys. With six new runners, I wasn't sure how they'd adapt to college. It went well, and they improved, especially Carlos [Galvan]," said Head Coach Dimitri Dimizas, who ended his fourth season leading the team.
Galvan made big strides this season. Among them was breaking the 3-mile time during an 8K his freshman year, which he did more than once. That's a goal typical of sophomore runners. "He put in a lot of work over the summer. He's a good student and very coachable. He really improved," Dimizas explained.
Chris Santoyo came to the Cyclones as a soccer player turned cross country runner, making marked improvements. "He got faster every race, improving from Aug. 1 to the end in October. He ran much faster than I expected," Dimizas said.
Matt Pierce was a solid No. 4 runner, who pushed through the region/conference championship with a stress fracture. Nick Marfoe dealt with an injury all year but still progressed along the way. That's one thing Dimizas hopes to work on next season, injury prevention and recovery.
"The lowlights of the season were injuries, but the growth of everybody was the highlight, especially Carlos and Chris," Dimizas said. "I have some recruits, but these six will help a lot, particularly the two who now have nationals experience. The others also now have a year running in college under their belts."