Despite having almost no rest time between meets, Chicago made an impressive showing yesterday at the Wheaton Invitational. The women placed second out of six teams and the men placed fourth out of five. The meet was moved up from Saturday to Wednesday because of the forecasted inclement weather. This meant that the Maroons had a much shorter rest period than usual, only about four days. The change also prevented several runners, including fourth-year middle distance runner Andrew Wells-Qu, from racing.
The Wheaton Invitational was the last meet before the UAA Championships. “We’re getting back into the competitive mood, playing catch-up to the other teams in our conference on semester systems who have already competed several times,” said Wells-Qu, who set a school record and qualified for nationals in the 800-meter run at last week’s Chicagolands Championships.
Fourth-year Dipti Karmarkar’s 11.08 meter jump secured first place in the triple jump. She was the only Maroon to secure a first place win yesterday. Chicago took about a dozen other second place wins as well. Fourth-year Kristin Constantine, named UAA Athlete of the Week, took two second place finishes, one in hammer throw and the other in shot put. Constantine’s throw in the hammer was a seasonal best and improved her dominance over the rest of the UAA. The next best thrower was more than four meters behind Constantine’s throw of 50.76 m. Karmarkar, fourth-year Ashley Eaves, fourth-year Stephanie Omueti, and third-year Madison Allen also secured a second place finish in the 4x100 meter relay. Other second place finishers included first year Michaela Whitelaw in the 1500-meter run, fourth-year Ashley Eaves in the 400-meter dash, first-year Elise Wummer in the 3000 meter run, first-year Zihan Xu in the 100 meter dash, third-year Moe Bahrani in the 3000-meter steeplechase, and third-year Robert Cooper in the 3000-meter run.
Ability to maintain intensity, even in the face of a short recovery time, will hopefully translate to a good conference performance. “Chicagolands and Wheaton are both [in preparation] for conference, which is in two weeks,” said Wells-Qu. The Maroons hope to improve in the coming weeks. “I think that everyone wants to get into a better position for conference as we fight to do well at that meet,” second-year distance runner Julia Sizek said.
The Maroons have entered their final training phase with conference fast approaching. Workouts will continue to be intense, but will be shorter and less frequent to allow for more recovery. The workouts in this final phase should help prepare the Maroons physically for the postseason. The easier workouts are also easier on the mind and will allow Chicago to be focused on racing going into the post-season. “At this point, mental preparation is also really important,” Sizek said.
Although Chicago finished behind teams that they usually are able to beat, such as Illinois Wesleyan and Wheaton, several athletes ran in their secondary events or didn’t run at all due to the short rest time between last weekend’s Chicagoland Championships and the meet Wednesday. The increased rest time before the UAAs, which aren’t until next weekend, should work in Chicago’s favor.
Chicago will be back on the track Friday, April 22, in Atlanta, GA for the UAA Championships. For Wells-Qu every race is a new challenge. “A chance to test myself once more, to see how much pain I can enjoy,” Wells-Qu said.