With the final meet of the regular season approaching and the NCAA DIII Outdoor Championships looming on the horizon, the Maroons hit their stride last week at the Dr. Keeler Invite at North Central College.
Following a scorching hot Thursday afternoon, where fourth-year Sarah Peluse in the 10,000-meter and first-year Gareth Jones in the 5,000-meter turned in strong times and high finishes, the rest of the Maroons embraced a cooler Friday afternoon, where several individuals sought to put themselves in position for not only personal records and high finishes, but also qualifying times for Nationals.
“This weekend was about individuals trying to qualify for Nationals or accomplish an unsatisfied goal,” second-year Ben Clark said. “We were hoping for optimal weather conditions for the short sprints, which is something we haven’t had all year. The track was too soft to yield fast times, and there ended up being a slight headwind.”
Regardless of the conditions, Clark was still able to turn in an impressive time of 11.09 seconds in the 100-meter dash, good enough for a top-20 finish in a field of over 50 competitors. Other Maroons contributed impressive performances on the day as well, including first-year Michelle Dobbs, who took second in the 800-meter, second-year Ryan Manzuk, who placed 13th in the 400-meter hurdles, first-year Olivia Clink, who turned in a distance of 10.87m in the triple jump for sixth place, and the women’s 4x400-meter relay team of Dobbs, second-year Alison Pildner, first-year Eleanor Kang, and third-year Francesca Tomasi, which continued its impressive season with a time of 3:53:50, good enough for first place that afternoon.
“There is still definitely some room for improvement. One area I’m especially focused on is our 4x400 relay,” Dobbs said. “We broke the school record on Friday, but I don’t think any of us are completely satisfied, especially as a couple more seconds off would probably qualify our team for Nationals.”
For the women’s 4x400 meter relay and the rest of the Maroons, there does remain one opportunity to qualify for Nationals: the Last Chance Meet this Thursday and Friday, again at North Central. With several Maroons only mere seconds, centimeters, and splits away from qualifying for the NCAA Championships in Delaware, OH, Friday will prove to be a pivotal moment in the season for the men’s and women’s Maroons.
“Now that we’re onto the Nationals part of the season, there’s still a small group who’s looking to Nationals, and for us, there’s still definitely work to be done, but it varies much more on an athlete-to-athlete basis,” Dobbs said.
The Maroons hit the track this Thursday at North Central at 12:15 p.m. and once again on Friday at 3 p.m. before select athletes head to Nationals next week in Ohio.