UChicago’s men’s and women’s track and field teams will start their indoor season with the annual Phoenix Invitational. The Invitational will be hosted by the Maroons at the Henry Crown Field House this Saturday. The team plans on continuing their streak of victories at the Invitational; for the past two years both the men and women’s teams placed first out of five teams.
While this meet marks the start of the official season, the teams have been rigorously training since early November. Practices are held at Crown for sprinters and jumpers. Third-year sprinter Mary Martin explained, “Since it’s early in the season, practice is still pretty tough. Later in the season, closer to the championships, we will begin tapering.” The distance and mid-distance teams have taken to the roads and trails around the area. Quite a few of the distance team members are returning runners from UChicago’s cross country team. These runners are just coming off their winter training, having taken a rest after cross country. Through December and early January they have been working on building their mileage back up to their peak.
Members of the team are excited to see where this meet goes. After a hiatus between seasons, the athletes want to start their season strong. While some members of the distance team are coming off the momentum of their cross country season, jumpers and sprinters are coming off months of training. As a result, the energy for this meet is extremely high. Third-year distance runner Andy Kates said, “It’s a rust-buster meet, so we want to get out there and put in good effort to kick off the season on a good note.”
Indoor track does come with some difficulties for members of the team. Distance and mid-distance runners have the challenge of running their races on a 200-meter track. The short distance of the track means that the runners face more turns than in cross country and outdoor track. Kates said, “The benefit of the short loops is that it is easier to stay engaged but harder to run fast because the turns slow you down. I try to race for place and try to not focus on times as much.”
Members of the team want to take this meet as an opportunity to pursue a season of improvement and successful performances. Kates said, “I want to race hard with my teammates and push each other. When we race for each other we accomplish things that we wouldn’t have thought were possible.”
Having won their conference last season, the women’s team is eager to start this season off with a victory. Martin explained, “The goal of the women’s team is to defend our indoor conference title.”
UChicago’s track and field teams will compete in the Phoenix Invitational this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the Henry Crown Field House.