Today the Maroons begin the first day of the two-day meet at the College of DuPage for this year’s outdoor Chicagoland Championships.
In what is a rather brief season compared to its indoor counterpart, this meet marks the second to last meet before the conference championships in two weeks at Emory in Atlanta.
Chicago, however, has wasted no time preparing for UAAs as both the men and women took first this past weekend in their outdoor opener at the Ted Haydon Invitational, their sole home meet of the season.
“Because our spring break is so late, many of the other teams in our conference had the chance to start competing in outdoor meets a couple weeks before we did,” said fourth-year Nissa Mai, who won the 3000m steeplechase by just under 28 seconds last Saturday.
“This is only our second outdoor meet, so a big challenge for the team this weekend will be to post some good performances so that we can feel really prepared for the conference championships at the end of this month.”
Despite Chicago’s few outdoor meets, the two-and-a-half month indoor season has given the Maroons a sufficient amount of preparation. In fact, for some on the team, a shorter second half can be a blessing in disguise, maintaining a healthy balance between competitive edge and necessary rest.
“Even though the outdoor season is fresh and we only have one meet under our belts, the team has been working extremely hard the last few months and that can tend to tire people out physically and mentally,” third-year Jake Romeo said. “I think the biggest challenge is staying focused and staying healthy and making sure we are ready to go for conference.”
Romeo, a two-sport athlete, is coming off his first competitive meet of the 2015 season. He spent the whole indoor season working back from an injury.
“The injury, though disappointing, forced me to refocus on my training efforts, address imbalances and start rebuilding a more stable foundation. Coming off of football, it probably did the rest of my body some good to have time to recover while my hamstring healed,” said Romeo. Chicagoland, however, is a crucial meet in more ways than one. It will give the Maroons a chance to measure themselves against some of its strongest divisional opponents.
“Chicagoland is going to be a great opportunity for my teammates and I to compete against some of the best DIII runners in the area and see what we need to work on to be ready for conference a couple weeks down the road,” said first-year Cassidy McPherson, who placed first in the 800m and second in the 1500m last weekend.
McPherson also pointed out that one of the team’s bigger challenges in such an abbreviated outdoor season is adjusting to weather conditions. Chicago got an early taste of the elements, battling a significant amount of gusty wind in its opener.
“I feel as though many of us will hit those big season marks at conference down in warm Atlanta,” said first-year Patrick LeFevre, who finished second in the 110m hurdles on Saturday. “We all remember losing [men’s] indoor conference by one point, and it was crushing. We won’t be denied again, I promise you that.”
Chicagoland started this afternoon at 12 p.m. and will continue at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning in Glen Ellyn, IL.