Loud paves his road to success

By Renato Arteaga, Contributing Writer

This season, sophomore Irwin Loud has done nothing but break personal records and improve on the cross country course, but the road to his recent success wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

Loud almost didn’t stay on the team and injured his tibia and femur in the same leg in consecutive seasons.

Loud began running in middle school as a sprinter on the track team, but after some convincing from friends, he decided to try cross-country in eighth grade.

He continued running track and cross country throughout high school at Oak Park-River Forest in Oak Park, Illinois, until he came to the University.

“Our high school was pretty big,” Loud said. “I would go to the halls and see new faces every day, and here it is like a bigger version of that. Every single day you see new faces you have never seen before. It was definitely a big change coming to a much bigger campus, but I think I was pretty prepared.”

Once he arrived on campus as a freshman, Loud had no intention of joining the varsity cross country or track teams and would instead focus on being a student and train to join a club team.

“I was doing most of the same types of workouts, training and lifting regiments, so I thought, why not join the team,” Loud said. “I joined the team a few weeks late, and I talked to the (former cross country) coach, and since I didn’t come off a summer of intensive training, he said I should redshirt this freshman cross country season, and then come back to compete in the track season.”

This process of redshirting allowed Loud to compete for Illinois with four years of eligibility intact. 

“Since I redshirted freshman year, I could compete my sophomore year, my junior year, my senior year and then take a graduate fifth year to compete,” Loud said.

Following the 2018-2019 cross-country season, Loud suffered a stress reaction in his tibia and couldn’t run at all, which made him miss both the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

After recovering from this injury, Loud spent the following summer training for the upcoming cross country season and building his mileage back. But, trouble came his way again.

He injured the same leg that ended his season the year before. This time he suffered a stress reaction in his femur, losing his second season of cross country.

“We had to revise my training plan,” Loud said. “(Coach) discussed with me how we would need to dial back the mileage because my body can’t really take it because of two prime examples of me getting injured twice.”

Loud’s workout plan looked a little different from the rest of the team, so while everyone else was running high mileage, he would run lower mileage and supplement the miles he is not running with biking, swimming and things that have less impact on his body.

Head coach Sarah Haveman praised Irwin for the cross-training he did after coming off two significant injuries.

“He has tremendous work ethic and always sees things in a positive light,” Haveman said.

Loud’s teammate, sophomore Logan Hall also praised Loud for his mental toughness and preparation.

“Irwin is a leader,” Hall said. “In practice, he helps teammates. He never leaves anybody behind, and he has a crucial leadership role with the team.”

Coming into his third year, Loud has been leading the team in 8k races, and steadily improving his finish times. 

Loud finished in the top-10 individually at the Buckeye Preview at Ohio State where he improved his 8k finish time from his previous meet, the John McNichols Invitational, by nearly three seconds.

“I feel like I’m trying to fight back for this lost time that I had,” Loud said. “I redshirted one season, and then I got injured my sophomore year, so I basically burned a season with injury. Coming into this season, I was really diligent with all of our training. I was really just ready to go out there and see what I can do.”

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