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Loyola High School Boys Cross Country Takes 11th Place in National Tournament

The Loyola High School Cubs Boys Cross Country team (center) among 309 runners at the start of the run at nationals in Hunstville Alabama. (all photos from Jenny Ratkovich)


Congratulations to the Loyola High School Boys Cross Country Team for its impressive showing at a recent national track competition held in Huntsville, Alabama. Projected to finish 16th, the team actually finished 11th among  31 teams and more than 300 runners. The team had placed third in the California CIF competition to earn the invitation to the national race.

Last week, we got a chance to visit with two members of the team, Hancock Park resident Jake Ratkovich and Larchmont Village resident Dylan Bissell. Both boys have older brothers who are accomplished runners, but we understand these two younger brothers have won the respect of their coaches and parents for their work ethic and commitment to the sport.  Bissell, a senior,  has accepted an offer to run for the University of California at Berkeley’s Division 1 college team, where he will join his older brother Shane on the team. Jake Ratkovich has two older brothers who are collegiate level runners. Mason, the oldest, is running for UCLA and Tyler, the middle brother runs at the University of San Diego.

Loyola Cubs during the race.


“With 309 runners in the race, the y had to stay focused and fast. We are so proud of these boys!! They worked so hard to earn the invitation to Nationals and they were amazing!” posted proud mom Jenny Ratkovich on social media. She told us about the practice regime the boys developed when school shut down last year. Normally the team would run six days a week, twice a day – once in the morning before school and then again after school. But without the structure of school, the boys decided they need to create their own structure to keep up their conditioning.

“You have to run everyday to keep up your time,” explained Bissell. Even young athletes can lose momentum by taking time off. “We are always trying to improve our time and you have keep running consistently to do that.”

Every morning the group would meet at 6:15 a.m. at Griffith Park, and run about eight miles before going home and getting on Zoom for school.

Jake, a junior who has been running since he was in the eighth grade, and Dylan, who started running in high school at the insistence of his mom, told us that getting to the national tournament was a great achievement in a very difficult year.  They told us they both love the simplicity of the sport — there are no referees, just the clock. They said they are motived by the support and camaraderie of running together as a team, while still competing to beat their own personal best.

“There was no pressure at nationals,” said Dylan. “We weren’t expected to win, and since it was my last high school meet, I decided to try and enjoy it. We were projected to place 16th, so we were very excited to beat that and place 11th. We did what we wanted to do.”


Bissell and Ratkovich won state accolades.


Jake and Dylan, who grew up together, will miss each other next year. The whole team and their families have grown close over the past year and they will definitely miss the seniors, explained Jenny Ratkovich.  But it’s also an opportunity for the younger players take over and assume a leading position on the team.

We asked if they had any advice for younger athletes. “Have fun, enjoy the sport but don’t take it too seriously,” they said.  But we should add that both are planning to continue running over their holiday break so they can stay in shape.


The Loyola team members and their families.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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