Some Maroons head to Stevens Point, WI in hopes of qualifying for the upcoming NCAA tournament. in North Carolina. Others will try to make NCAA cuts at Carthage.
For some Maroons, this weekend is their last chance to keep their hopes of a postseason alive. Each South Sider hopes to break the top 15 in national rankings to have a chance to compete in North Carolina.
“This is the ‘last chance’ meet, in which athletes with a chance of qualifying for nationals attempt to solidify their place in the national rankings,” said second-year distance runner Nick Nielsen. “If it works out, you’re going to the NCAAs and if not, all you’ve lost is nine hours spent on a bus driving to and from the meet.”
“This weekend is super important,” third-year Nelly Trotter said. “This is the last chance for many of us to qualify for the national meet in North Carolina. This meet will have some very good competition—everyone will be vying for the top 15 or so spots in the country.”
After a long season and UAA Championships, the Chicago athletes competing this weekend have to gather enough strength to push through this last obstacle to the NCAA tournament.
“We’re coming off a long, physically and emotionally exhausting weekend of competition with the UAA Championships, so recovery and getting our legs back to feeling fresh is our first priority,” said third-year sprinter Ryan Manzuk.
Everything that they have been working for all season comes down to this weekend for some Maroon track and field athletes. For these few Maroons, this weekend is a chance to go all out in order to secure their spots in the NCAAs.
“The mentality going into this meet is an all-or-nothing, winner-take-all, no-holds-barred, bet-the-family-farm gamble to push yourself faster and farther, with no concern for the consequences,” Nielsen said.
“The mentality for this weekend is to simply run personal best times. I am on the 4x400 relay team this weekend, and if we all run equal to or better than our personal best splits, we think we’ll have a good chance to go,” Manzuk said.
With Chicago athletes from all different events going to this last-chance meet, practice preparation has varied. From distance runners to sprinters to high jumpers, the preparation going into a weekend with a lot on the line looks different for each of these Maroons.
“Track and field preparation is the compounded, daily effort that comes with training, with no special last-minute training techniques. Your abilities aren’t altered by your training in the past weeks, but in the past months,” Nielsen said.
“Workouts should be light enough that we are not tired come Saturday, but we do have to get some work done to maintain conditioning,” Manzuk said. “Personally, I’m making sure I get a good high-quality two-mile warm-up run every day...some light lifting to maintain some very important strength and explosiveness…[and] staying well-within my dietary guidelines.”
“For high jump, we have been focusing on technique and just building confidence at the higher heights,” Trotter said.
The last chance meet kicks off this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at UW–Stevens Point.