A year after coming agonizing close to making the state meet, Loyola senior Jack Loveland left no doubt Thursday at the Class 3A Niles West Sectional. 

In his signature event, Loveland won the 400 meters in a personal-best time of 49.30 seconds and will compete at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Field in Charleston for the first time. The meet runs Friday and Saturday.

“I told him afterward that he faced and conquered his demons,” Loyola head coach Dan Seeberg said. “He executed the game plan and put together a perfect race. We thought he had a good shot last year, but he came up just shy of qualifying. It was a depressing night.

“What he did [Thursday] was exciting, and we are hoping for more next week.”

Loveland, who won the Catholic League title in the 400, is looking to become the second runner in program history to earn a state medal in the event. Dylan Remick (Class of 2009) placed eighth as a senior in a time of 49.27. Loveland’s 49.30 already is one of the five fastest times at Loyola, according to Seeberg. 

“Jack’s had a great senior season and is closely it out nicely,” Seeberg said. 

Loveland will have company at Eastern Illinois. Junior Kieran Thompson and freshman Spencer Werner each advanced to the state meet. Like Loveland, both are first-time qualifiers. 

In his first season on the team, Thompson cleared 6 feet, 3 inches in the high jump on his last attempt to make it through. 

“Very cool and unusual,” Seeberg said of Thompson’s accomplishment. “We are excited for him to get the experience of competing at the state meet.” 

Werner ran a 9:18.74 in the 3,200 to earn his trip to Charleston. It was less than a week after he won the event at the Catholic League meet. 

“That was an elite performance,” Seeberg said. “He’s a singular talent.”