By his own admission, senior Jack Loveland arrived at Loyola without much of a running reputation. He leaves as one of the best sprinters in school history.
After placing eighth in the 400 meters at this year’s Class 3A state meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Loveland joined Dylan Remick (Class of 2009) as a state medalist in the event. Spencer Cotten (Class of 1984) is the only other Rambler, boy or girl, to earn all-state honors in either the 100, 200 or 400. He’s in the school’s Hall of Fame.
The success surprised Loveland, whose primary sport in middle school at Evanston’s St. Joan of Arc was soccer.
“I never expected to get as far as I did this year, and I never thought I would end up being one of the best at Loyola,” he said. “It was a process to get here, and I’ve had a lot of support from family, coaches and friends. It’s exciting and really jaw-dropping.”
Loveland peaked at the perfect time. He finished first in the 400 at the Catholic League’s meet May 11 in a personal-best time of 49.55 seconds. He followed that up with a 49.30 to win the 400 at Niles West’s sectional before clocking a 49.15 — his third consecutive career-best performance — in the preliminaries of the state meet May 24. That time is second in program history behind Remick’s 48.61.
“Pretty impressive endgame,” Loyola head coach Dan Seeberg said. “He was dominant all year and ran three fabulous races in a row under pressure.”
As a junior, Loveland came agonizingly close to qualifying for the state meet in the event, missing the cut by .23 seconds at Loyola’s sectional. According to Seeberg, the disappointment of not advancing may have contributed to how Loveland approached this season.
“He’s always been a great athlete,” Seeberg said. “When he came to Loyola, Jack was a soccer player in his head. It took time for him to become a track guy and realize it was a sport where he could excel. Last year confirmed that, but we saw a different side to him this year. He became more focused and more receptive to coaching.”
Added Loveland: “I’ve been fast my entire life, but I didn’t have a strong background in running before high school. The coaches saw something in me my freshman year. I continued to evolve. This year, I dedicated myself to working hard and preparing my body the best I could to make the most of what I have.
“It was an awesome way to finish.”
Loveland will attend University of Illinois, where he’s entertaining the possibility of walking on to the track and field team.
“It wasn’t something I planned on doing, but I’m getting some encouragement,” he said. “I don’t know what I will do. At the moment, I’m going to relax and enjoy the summer.”