SPORTS

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April 5, 2011

South Siders shine in season debut

Chicago returned from the break in full force, leading the pack of 13 schools at the Ted Haydon Invitational in Hyde Park on Saturday. With the UAA Conference Championships fast approaching, Chicago overcame several obstacles, including weather and spring break, and showed that they have got what it takes to compete.

Men’s track and field placed first with 175 points, beating out UW—Stout, who finished with 151. The women’s also took first with 221 points, enjoying a spacious margin of victory from second place St. Ambrose’s second-place score of 130.

“It was really important that we had a successful meet because the UAA’s are now only three weeks away,” said first-year Jennie Porter, who posted a winning time of 1:09.33 in the 400-meter hurdles. “A lot of the other schools in our conference have already had two or three meets, so we wanted to post some good times that could be competitive in conference.”

Porter was one of nine individual event-winners for the women, a group that included fourth-year Kristin Constantine’s national qualifying performance in the hammer throw. Constantine threw a qualifying distance of 50.17m, a full 10m farther than any other competitor. Constantine also finished first in shot put by half a meter.

The Ted Haydon Invitational was the first meet of Chicago’s outdoor season, introducing weather as a new factor in the outcome of events. The cold Chicago winds presented a different atmosphere for competition.

“It’s usually an ice-breaker as we transition from ‘perfect’ indoor weather conditions to well...the windy city,” said fourth-year Stephanie Omueti, who participated in the women’s winning 400-meter relay team. “It was very important that as a team we realized that although it would still be cold, we should not use that as an excuse to not show up ready to compete.”

Finals week and spring break provided another mental hurdle for track to scale on their way to victory.

“It was critical for us to approach the meet competitively and jump right back into competition,” said third-year Rachel Ohman, winner of the women’s 3000-meter run. “Winter quarter finals and spring break make it easy to lose focus between indoor and outdoor track.”

“Since track is a conditioning sport, I prepared for the meet (and my race) by continuing to train through finals week and over break,” said second-year Julia Sizek, who took home first place in the 1500-meter run. “I think that people who discontinued their season during those key times would have less success.”

Second-year Billy Whitmore also worked hard over break to prepare for Ted Haydon. “Coming off the indoor season, it was important for me to keep my mileage up and really focus on the assigned workouts over spring break. This way, I could return to the outdoor season with a good base and not lose any fitness.”

Men’s track boasted two individual winners—Whitmore in the men’s 3000-meter run and fellow second-year Ray Laws in the 800-meter run.

“Outdoor track is a very long season, but the UAA’s are coming up so it was important to get out in the first meet and establish a good base performance to improve upon,” Laws said.

The men also won the 400-meter relay with a team consisting of fourth-year Pat Kascur, second-year Dee Brizzolara, and first-years Theo Benjamin and Zihan Xu.

Although Chicago enjoyed success at Ted Haydon, the more important meets have yet to come.

“The meet was a good indication of how much work everyone needs to put in for the coming weeks,” Benjamin said.

Track and Field will play host to the Chicagoland Outdoor Championships this Friday and Saturday for the women and men’s teams, respectively.

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