The Maroons begin their outdoor season at home with the Ted Haydon Invitational this weekend in what will be their sole home meet of their spring season.
Chicago capped off an exciting indoor season with the women clinching the conference championship at home by over 20 points, while the men fell just short of a title by a point to Wash U. For the men, the crowning of the UAA champion came down to the final event, the 4x400-meter, where they fell just short to Wash U. Additionally, the women sent their third-ranked Distance Medley Relay (DMR) squad to the DIII National Championships in Salem, N.C. where they finished third overall. The men also sent their 4x400-meter squad, which qualified at their last chance meet just a week prior and finished ninth overall the following weekend. Pole-vaulter Michael Bennett earned a spot at Nationals but did not compete due to injury.
“The conference championships were a big improvement from last year but unfortunately we came up one point short,” said first-year Obi Wamuo who ran the second leg of the 4x400-meter for the men at UAA conference.
“This close call to what could have been has made the team hungry for a championship that we believe we deserve,” added Wamuo.
Unlike the men’s successful relay squad, on the women’s side the competitors will be split up into their other events for the remainder of the season as there is no outdoor DMR event.
“Everyone comes back from nationals in a different way. Especially with spring break and finals week, there are not many team practices happening, so it really is an adjustment period,” said second-year Michelle Dobbs, who ran the third leg of the DMR at Nationals.
“For some this means pushing the workouts harder than ever during indoor, and for others it’s best to ease back a little bit and make sure to stay healthy in the long run,” continued Dobbs.
The outdoor season includes environmental factors that are not present during the indoor months. Leading up to this weekend’s meet, some athletes were concerned that competition would be difficult due to the recent snowfall and colder weather last week, but as of late Thursday the conditions appear favorable with the temperature slated to be in the high 50s and sunny.
“Chicago can be a little unkind to us on practice or meet days,” said Dobbs on the tougher climate athletes must face outdoors.
“We definitely have to prepare mentally to be able to face these differences and understand that worse times at this point in the season don’t necessarily mean worse performances,” said Dobbs.
Despite the challenges the weather may bring, there are other concerns that some of the athletes may have to address as well, such as the wear and tear from the indoor season.
“The biggest challenge would be overcoming the sense of being burnt out from track and field,” said Wamuo on the metaphoric hurdles he will need to jump over this weekend.
“Track and field is not only physically exhausting but also mentally and it will be easier to zone out when facing external factors such as weather,” finished Wamuo.
Both athletes have had three weeks to recuperate from their strong winter campaigns, but most of their teammates are itching to compete after over five weeks of competitive inactivity. The Maroons rush out of the starting gates tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. at the Haydon Track.