Of over 80 DIII track and field meets nationwide this past weekend, the USTFCCA named the Leonard “Squig” Whitewater Invitational as the meet of the week. The meet featured five top-10 teams and nationally-ranked competitors in almost every event. Amid the intense competition, the men squeezed out a seventh place finish on Friday. The women did not make the trip on Saturday as the Maroons withdrew due to safety concerns with heavy snow.
“The team competed well against some of the best teams in the country,” first-year Gareth Jones said. “The team did a good job in rising to the level of competition, especially the first-years.”
In a season that started off against some easier competition, first-year Maroons got a chance to race against the best teams in the nation and held up against the adversity well. Of the top four Maroons to finish in the mile, two were first-years. First-year Nicholas Nielsen missed out on scoring by a mere two seconds to second-year Michael Frasco, who came in eighth in the event. In the 800, first-year Jeremy Ferguson led the team with his time of 2:00.89, finishing 14th, only three seconds short of a scoring time. Jones had a spectacular meet himself, taking first for the Maroons and sixth overall in the 3,000-meter run and breaking Chicago’s freshman record in the event.
“I had a very good race. I broke the freshman record by four seconds, running 8:42.7 in the 3k,” Jones said. “This was also a [personal record].”
Other highlights included fourth-year Dan Povitsky and second-year Michael Bennett. Povitsky took fifth in the 5000-meter run with his time of 15:01.93. Converting from a flat to a banked track, he ranks 20th in the nation in the event. Bennett took first in the pole vault in a meet that featured numerous athletes who will likely qualify for nationals. Bennett’s solid vault of 4.75 meters came short of his season best and current qualifying height of 4.9 meters.
The Whitewater Invitational provided much stronger competition than the Maroons will see in their conference, and likely the best competition they will see in the remainder of the regular season. Thus, the seventh-place finish should not be a massive concern.
“Competing against top-ranked teams goes a long way in preparing for the conference championships,” Jones said. “Opportunities such as these give us much needed experience.”
The Maroons now have two home meets and a matchup in nearby Naperville before they travel to Boston where Brandeis will play host to the UAA Championships. Short of the Chicagoland Championships in Naperville, the Maroons will face much feebler foes in their home bouts and have a chance to really focus on improving for the conference meet.
This weekend, the South Siders will host the Windy City Rumble in Henry Crown. Snow shouldn’t be an issue as the women will make their first appearance in two weeks and as the men will look to improve on last weekend’s performance.