With the NCAA Championships only three weeks away, Chicago track is taking every opportunity to prepare.
“Every meet we’ve had since conference is used solely to try and qualify for nationals,” second-year Demetrios Brizzolara said. In order to prepare, many Maroons are working on specific goals this weekend. For example, third-year sprinter Stephanie Omueti is focusing on the 400-meter dash. “Form and technique will see me through the last 75m of the 400-meter race, as this is usually the hardest part: finishing strong and not allowing the body to break down from fatigue,” Omueti said. The provisional mark of 57.30 seconds is only a second faster than Omueti’s strongest mark this year, 58.60 seconds at the UAAs in Atlanta.
The team is traveling to Madison, WI, this weekend for the Madison Twilight Invitational. This is a new meet for Chicago, and hopefully it will be a more competitive meet than the one last week. Wisconsin—Madison is typically one of the strongest track and field teams in the country. “Typically, this is the weekend when all of the Chicagoland schools (who we normally compete against during the regular season) have their conference meets, so as a result there are no meets in the area this weekend,” third-year Madison Allen said.
The competition this weekend is likely to be tougher than last week’s competition in Lisle at the Benedictine Twilight Meet. “Because Madison is a Big Ten school, there may be more competition than we normally encounter in some of the events,” Allen said.
Despite this possibility, there is some uncertainty about exactly how competitive this weekend’s meet will be. “Most Division-III conferences have their conference championship meets this weekend, and higher divisions have many conference championship meets next weekend, so we won’t be seeing the full force of the Big Ten or anything like that,” fourth-year Brian Andreycak said. Generally, however, the B and C teams of D-I programs have athletes strong enough to challenge Chicago.
“Granted, the A squads of whichever schools we meet will not be running, [but] I am certain that their B and C squads will provide just as much competition to allow us to run faster times, throw further, and jump higher and longer distances,” Omueti said.
The season and the quarter are both drawing slowly to a close for the Maroons. Both the school season and the athletic season are ratcheting up the intensity, as midterms and papers challenge Chicago in the classroom while their opponents challenge them on the track. “We’re moving into the final stage of the season, so we’re trying to put down our best performances in our best events,” Andreycak said. Putting up better and better times, distances, and heights are all key to qualifying for nationals, a major focus for Chicago.
Since this is one of the last meets of the season, it is an especially important time for individual athletes to work towards their particular goals, and to try and get to nationals. For some, it’s a matter of seconds in a race. Other athletes are instead trying to enjoy these last few weeks they have with their teammates before the summer break.
“Specifically, I am going to use this meet as one of the last opportunities of the season to perform the best that I can, but to also have fun with it. I do want to better some of my seasonal bests before the end of the season, so there is no better time than the present to do that,” Allen said.
This weekend is more than just an opportunity to get faster, jump higher, and throw farther. The meet also offers team members an opportunity to bond over a day of track and field. “I am looking forward to spending my entire day with my teammates, running fast, and cheering them on to better performances as well. The season is winding down, and as a fourth-year, I am cherishing every moment I have with my best friends and teammates,” Omueti said.