The Maroons took the bull by the horns this past weekend at the Chicagolands Championship, one of the most hotly contested meets of the year. The women and men took fourth and fifth, respectively, out of 17 teams from across all three NCAA divisions.
On the men’s side, second-year Michael Bennett continued his undefeated streak in the pole vault, winning with 4.75m, and taking home UAA athlete of the week honors for his performance. Second-year Michael Frasco had a season best in the mile with his fourth-place finish of 4:15.68. Third-year Kevin On took third in the 5,000-meter run with his time of 15:19.83 and moved into sixth in the conference.
And while it was a solid meet for the men, the women broke records with their performances. Literally.
“[Coach Chris Hall] has a cool tradition that when someone breaks a school record, he brings in an actual record from his collection and we get to throw it against the wall and ‘break the record,’” fourth-year Jennie Porter said.
Porter, third-year Francesca Tomasi, and second-years Alison Pildner and Mikaela Hammel, broke the school record for the 4x400-meter relay with their time of 3:56.55, nearly 3.5 seconds faster than the previous school record. Chicago currently ranks third in DIII in the 4x4. They came in second to DII Lewis by less than half a second.
“It felt amazing to break the school record,” Porter said. “As a senior, I’ve been looking at those records for a long time and know how special it is to break one. Our entire team ran down to the line after we finished and everyone was so excited and cheering. It was one big party. Being ranked nationally is the cherry on top of a great weekend.”
Before the 4x4, all four runners had already competed. Hammel and Pildner took fourth (26.17s) and fifth (59.65s) in the 200-meter and 400-meter, respectively. Tomasi was edged out by Pildner for the fifth place spot by four hundredths of a second.
“Endurance was important,” Porter said. “But I think mostly what got me through that last 400 were my teammates. The 4x4 has always been my favorite event on the track. I knew I needed to finish it for them.”
Second-year Brianna Hickey finished second in the mile with her time of 5:01.38. That performance moved her up to seventh in DIII and into a national qualifying position. Second-year Nkemdilim Nwaokolo achieved a personal record in the shot put with her fifth-place throw of 12.38m. Fourth-year Sarah Peluse took second in the 5000-meter run with her time of 18:01.92. Second-year Theo Kassebaum rounded up the rodeo for the Maroons with a personal record in the 60-meter hurdles with her time of 9.61s.
The Maroons have a home meet this weekend before the conference championship.
“I think we can go much faster,” Porter said. “We’re just getting started, and I’m excited to see how this season is going to end.”