The men’s and women’s track and field teams placed fourth in the North Central Invite this past Friday. The Maroons fell to some of the area’s top programs, including D-III powerhouses North Central College and UW-Oshkosh, but gained experience in battling elite teams, which they hope will help their larger season goals.
Head coach Chris Hall was satisfied with his athletes’ effort after a strenuous week of practice. “I thought our team looked a little fatigued,” Hall said, “but I was pleased that the athletes still competed with a high level of intensity.”
“I think we had about a B+ day. These early races are very much building blocks,” said second-year miler Henry Ginna.
Though they were not at the top of the team standings, there were two Chicago men who put forth spectacular performances that have national level implications. Fourth-year veteran Drew Jackson followed up his incredible triple jump mark of 14.94m last Saturday, with another automatic NCAA qualifying mark of 14.80m to best the field by over a half meter. Jackson is a national contender and has experience competing in the national meet after finishing second in the triple jump outdoors last spring.
Another highlight of the meet came from fourth-year middle-distance runner Andrew Wells-Qu blitzing the field and winning the 800-meter in 1:53.52. The time provisionally qualified him for the national meet, and shaved an unprecedented seven seconds off his opening half mile of the year. Wells-Qu is no stranger to fast times under a roof. He ran 1:53 and qualified for national indoors his second year, but was plagued with injury problems last year. It is clear that Wells-Qu is back on top form and will be in the national conversation come late February as he looks to improve on Friday’s display.
The other win on the men’s side came from fourth-year captain hurdler Brian Andreycak, who blazed a 8.57 in the 60-meter hurdles to win by just over a tenth of a second.
“It was nice to win and post a good time,” Andreycak said. He expressed confidence in his team moving forward. “We’re in a good place right now. The UAA is starting to come into focus and we look like we can be competitive for the title.”
For the women’s team, top performances came from second-year Emily Hren and fourth-year Liz Lawton, who placed second in the high jump (1.61m) and the mile (5:11) respectively.
Both Chicago squads hope to build on their performances as they fight through their most intense training cycle of the season.
“Obviously, we try to compete at our best each race, but our biggest goals are for our conference. What we’re really looking for is how we measure up against teams in the UAA,” said Ginna.
This Saturday at Henry Crown Field House, the Maroons will host the Chicago Duals at 11:30 a.m.