It was an up-and-down meet for the Chicago squads in Wisconsin this past weekend with the women’s side pulling off a stunning victory against the Warhawks, while the men were able to garner individual successes that didn’t quite add up to a team win.
Although the men’s team didn’t finish as well as they would have hoped at the UW–Whitewater Invitational, they turned in solid individual performances. The men’s team finished ninth against a slew of tough competition, and even though they didn’t finish as high as they wanted, 12 of the Maroons finished in the top 10 in their individual events.
It is also worth noting that many of the South Siders were recovering from injuries, such as second-year Nathan Downey who recovered from his hamstring injury to place fifth in the 400-meter race with a time of 50.08. Other Maroon races went well with third-year Timofey Karginov finishing first in the 5,000-meter, third-year Gareth Jones taking fifth in the 3,000-meter, and second-year Patrick Lefevre racing into fifth in the 60-meter hurdles.
The women, on the other hand, pulled an upset to defeat host UW–Whitewater and won the meet last weekend. Fourth-year Mikaela Hammel put it in perspective when she said, “The women quite literally shocked the nation by winning the meet by half a point.”
The women boasted five first-place finishes with first-year Emma Koether, Hammel, first-year Nicole VacaGuzman, and third-year Michelle Dobbs winning the 4x400-meter relay, Dobbs cruising to a win in the 800-meter, fourth-year Brianna Hickey snatching the one-mile, second-year Khia Kurtenbach leading the pace of the 5,000-meter, and first-year Alexandra Thompson winning the high jump.
Though the approaching Windy City Invitational will not have the same level of competition as the Warhawk Invite, both teams view it as an important check point for later races in the season. “It’ll be nice to compete at Crown after back-to-back road trips. We’re all hoping to continue getting higher, faster, and farther,” Downey said.
On the subject of future implications, Downey emphasized the necessity of this meet. “The competition will not be nearly as good as it was at the Warhawk meet, but it gives us an opportunity to fine tune some things and get ready for Chicagolands next weekend,” he said. “Chicagolands also have qualifying marks, so the meet this weekend will be a last chance for some members of our teams to hit those marks.”
Last year both the men’s and women’s teams won the Windy City Invite, so they are not only looking to continue their streak, but to also have a more successful future. “The future of UCTF is bright. Be on the lookout for some nation shocking in the coming weeks,” Downey said.
The women’s side also hopes to shock the nation and break records. “Currently we are ranked third nationally and are very close to breaking the school record for the third year in a row. Right now we’re behind two teams in our conference, and I can’t wait to race them in New York at the end of February,” Hammel said.
The Chicago teams will host the Windy City Invitational Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in Henry Crown Fieldhouse.