The South Siders will head north this weekend to compete in the Benedictine Invitational. The meet will take place in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, with over 20 teams and clubs from around the Midwest registered to compete. This will be the first time the Maroons compete in this event.
“The team is extremely upbeat,” first-year Mikaela Hammel said. “We are happy to be racing outside again and are looking forward to better weather conditions.”
Since the outdoor season began last weekend, the weather has posed a bit of an issue for the Maroons. The recent heavy rains and strong winds forced some South Siders to withdraw from events last weekend at the Chicagoland Championships and have not made for ideal practice conditions.
“We’re continuing to practice hard, hoping that the weather will cooperate and allow for fast times,” first-year Ben Clark added.
Current weather predictions for the Lisle, IL area show clear skies on Saturday, a promising sign for Chicago’s athletes frustrated by the weather last week.
Like all meets this season, the Invitational will also serve as a tune-up for the UAA Championships, now only two weeks away.
“Coach said it’s a pretty big meet, but I think we’ll have some people score points,” Clark said. “Really, though, it’s all about being ready for conference [championships]. There will be people doing more events than they usually do in preparation for New York.”
Clark and Hammel are cases in point, with Clark competing in three events and Hammel in four.
“I’ll be running the 100m, 200m, 4x1 (relay) and 4x4 (relay),” Hammel explained. “It’s gonna be another long day, so I’m just going to focus on one event at a time. Last week the women’s 4x1 was disqualified, so this meet we are really focusing on getting the baton around the track and getting a seed time for conference. We’ve been working hard on handoffs in practice, and I’m feeling very confident for this weekend.”
Clark plans to compete in the 100m dash, 200m dash, and the 4x100m relay. In addition, fourth-year speedster Dee Brizzolara, who has been sidelined with an injury, will return to compete alongside Clark in the 4x100m relay.
“I’m excited to see No. 6 [Brizzolara] back on the track,” Clark said. “Hopefully we get in the fast section of the 4x1, and he gives us a lead.”
Fourth-year Brandon Meckelberg will also be making his first outdoor season appearance this weekend. Meckelberg is the reigning UAA champion in the discus and will be competing in the event this Saturday for the first time since last year.
“After this meet, we will only have one more chance to run good times before conference,” Hammel said. “It’s really important that we handle business correctly so that next week we’re not in as much of a pressure crunch. We want to continue to get people into the top eight on the conference leader board and make our presence in the conference known.”
The Benedictine Invitational is scheduled to begin this Saturday at 10 a.m. in Lisle, IL. Live results will be reported on the Benedictine University athletic web site.