In their final stop before the UAA championship, the Maroons look to finalize their roster and build momentum in the North Central Cardinal Open.
This will be an odd week for South Siders, as the race will serve mostly as preparation for the UAA championship. Many of the top runners on the team won’t race.
“The greatest importance of this meet is finalizing our roster for the UAA championships. We are holding out a number of runners this weekend that I do not feel need to compete to be ready for next week but have a few roster spots still up for grabs for UAAs and will determine those based upon this meet,” head coach Chris Hall said. “The other aspect of importance is that we are consistently showing improvement and building confidence heading into UAAs.”
The team needs to fill its roster with runners who will be at peak performance and able to deliver times that put the team in a position to win.
It is equally important to have the runners in top shape. The cross-country season is a long one and can wear on an athlete’s body. Coaches have to balance the effects of pushing athletes hard enough that they improve, but not so hard that they break. “We have moved into our final training phase of the season,” Hall said, “and with that are beginning to feel a little fresher [and] sharper.”
Yet, while many runners will not compete on Friday, Hall emphasized that he wouldn’t be focusing on any individuals at the meet but rather looking to see how the team is coming into shape.
“While we are holding some people out, this is a college varsity competition and [we] would like to see our team perform at a really high level, much more so than any individual,” Hall said.
The race on Friday is a stepping-stone toward much bigger things. The Maroons will look to race well on Friday and try to come together for a strong finish to the season.
Chicago will race at North Central College today at 3 p.m.