With their Last Chance over, two Maroons can set their sights on the national championship in Claremont, California later this week.
15 South Siders competed in the North Central Last Chance Meet this past weekend. The meet posed some of the toughest competition the team has faced all year, and while this led to zero top-three finishes for the Maroons, Chicago participants achieved some very good individual marks.
“The level of competition this weekend was extremely high as most people were attempting to get qualifying marks for Nationals,” first-year thrower Kelly Wood said. “It was definitely simultaneously intimidating and motivating to be competing against such high-caliber athletes.”
Third-year Kayla McDonald was able to qualify for Nationals with her season-best time of 2:12.02 in the 800-meter. Other Maroons that were able to garner season-bests at North Central included first-year Pam Yu, second-years Kimberly Kucharski and Sarah Peluse, and fourth-year Madison Allen.
Yu placed 11th overall with a distance of 10.85m in the triple jump while Allen also placed 11th in the long jump with a distance of 5.25m. Meanwhile, runners Kucharski and Peluse placed 21st and 10th respectively. Kucharski ran the 800-meter in 2:25.98 while Peluse ran the 5,000-meter in 18:18.64.
“I am extremely proud of our team this weekend —everyone put in their best effort to get a new personal record, whether it was to qualify for nationals or just for personal achievement,” Wood said.
Fourth-year high jumper Paige Peltzer also competed this past weekend but was unable to beat her previous best mark of 1.67m set at the DePaul University Invitational. Peltzer fell in the national rankings to 23rd, one spot short of qualifying for Nationals.
McDonald will be accompanied to Claremont by fellow Maroon and national qualifier Julia Sizek. Sizek did not compete this past weekend at North Central but is currently ranked eighth in the nation in the 10,000-meter run with her time of 36:04.08.
McDonald currently sits fewer than five seconds away from the regular season first-place ranking of 2:07.32 set by Roanoke’s Carmen Graves in the 800-meter run. Sizek is just over a minute behind Wartburg’s Alana Enabnit who ran the 10,000-meter run in 35:03.17. By the end of this week, both Maroons’ national rankings will be solidified for the year.
“This weekend we will all be rooting for Kayla and Julia to do their best at Nationals and to hopefully get new PRs. Such elite competition will definitely provide an atmosphere conducive to improving,” Wood said. “Even though we won’t be with Julia and Kayla like at our regular season meets, we are supporting them 110 percent.”