By the end of the women's 800-meter, the Chicago Pentangular looked more like a house cleaning than a track meet.
Third-year middle distance runner Jessica Winter ran 2:21.88 to lead a 1-2-3 finish for the women's team, who also swept the women's 5000-meter to win their season opener Saturday. The men's team added a sweep of their own in the 5,000-meter and finished third, 40 points behind Lewis University and two behind the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Both teams were given high marks for their performance against tough competition. The meet featured Division I programs from UIC and DePaul University.
"I was really pleased with the weekend. I feel we set the stage for a great season," said head coach Chris Hall.
Winter shared her coach's confidence, promising a dominating victory long before the gun.
"I told EK [fourth-year middle distance runner Emily Kay, 2:27.63] and JK [second-year middle distance runner Jackie Kropp, 2:26.43] that we were going to sweep the 800. I'm glad we were able to deliver," she said.
Beyond the importance of getting the season off on the right foot, Saturday was also the first opportunity to compete for a strong first-year class. Jumper Aparna Hirvie led with a mark of 10.93 meters in the women's triple jump, winning the event and setting a school record in her first collegiate competition.
"I was amazed at our underclassmen athletes," fourth-year sprinter Brandon Halcott said. "They were all extremely excited to compete throughout the week, and it showed at our meet Saturday. That's so important, because they add depth that will be instrumental in our attempt to win the conference."
"We want to win the UAA indoor and outdoor this year. We've been so close in the past, but with the depth we have this year, I believe it's possible," he added.
While the UAA Indoor Championship in New York is still six weeks away, it seemed very much on the minds of the Maroons at the Pentangular. Second-year sprinter and hurdler Nellie Movtchan, colliding during her hand-off in the 4x400 meter relay, was heard to shout "Wuck Fash U!" on the track.
Other notable performances included second-year Leon Gordon, who threw for 13.48 meters to come in second in the shotput and for 12.79 meters for third in the weight throw. Fourth-year middle distance runner Jerome Tharaud won the 5,000 meter in 15:19.65.
"I was really happy to see Leon get off to a strong start," Hall said.
Hall cited newly hired assistant coach Mary Banker as the biggest off-season contributor.
"She pulled all the athletes together that were not in fall sports and really pushed them in a positive way. Our team is better prepared for what lies ahead over the next four months than at any other time since I've been here due to that off-season program," he said.