The Maroons have begun the final leg of the race, so to speak, before the conference championship next weekend.
This Saturday they will brave the cold once again at the Don Church Wheaton Twilight Invitational.
Last year, the Maroons finished in fifth place at the Wheaton Twilight Invitational. This year, they will try to improve on that performance, although first place may be a stretch considering traditional powerhouse North Central will be in attendance. The Cardinals held the number one ranking in DIII on the men’s side for most of the season and currently sit at third.
Yet the biggest competition for the South Siders may not come from the opposing teams they will compete against this weekend. Rather, they will have to face off against each other. Due to entry limits for various events at the UAA championship, not all Maroon athletes can compete in their usual events. This weekend is a chance for each individual to show that he or she deserves to represent the team at conference.
“The team is probably the most positive, upbeat, and inspiring group of people I have ever had the privilege to spend time with,” second-year sprinter Francesca Tomasi said. “On the track we really push and support each other, and off the track it’s so easy to just have a great time together. Especially now, rolling into the second half of our competition season, it really does feel like a family.”
Tomasi recently returned to the track after a long hiatus due to injury. She will compete in the 200m and 400m dashes this weekend.
The Maroons have worked all year to improve and get ready for the conference meet. A few, like Tomasi, have just recently returned from injury and are diving right into high pressure situations. Others will use this as their final opportunity to perfect form or correct baton passing. This weekend will serve as a final opportunity to fix any kinks left over from previous competitions and to mentally prepare for the climax of the season.
“Coach Hall has been doing a great job preparing us,” fourth-year Vicky Espinoza said. “[For the steeplechase], we began going over hurdles and doing hurdle mobility during indoor track season.”
Espinoza won the 3,000m steeplechase last weekend at the Benedictine Invitational and will compete in the 1,500m run this weekend.
The Maroons want to be successful this weekend and carry momentum over into next week. As the South Siders compete this weekend, their eyes will be on the finish line, but the UAAs will be lurking in the background. Events are slated to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re very optimistic about what we can accomplish as a team this season and [are] confident that all of our hard work will pay off,” first-year Jake Romeo said.