The goal for the 4×400 relay team was simple: Run fast.
After entering this weekend’s UAA Championships as the odds-on favorite for a repeat title, men’s track had fallen behind, and the team knew that for it to take home the conference crown, the 4×400 team would have to win its race, the meet’s final event.
“We were pretty confident because we had run the fastest time in the four-by-four up to that point, and all we’ve got to do is run our race and hopefully things work out,” second-year Keith Newhouse said. “I feel like there was more confidence than worry.”
So a confident squad stepped out on NYU’s heralded Armory Track and did exactly what they hoped to do. In fact, they ran faster than any other Chicago 4×400 relay team had ever run, posting a new school record in the event with a time of 3:22.06.
Emory and Wash U just ran a little bit faster.
The third-place finish knocked Chicago to third overall, with Emory nabbing the crown by the slimmest of margins, defeating Carnegie Mellon 106–105, and Chicago came up just short with 103 points.
“They ran faster than they had all season, and in fact a lot of people did better than they had all season,” third-year Blake Obuchowski said. “It’s just that a lot of other teams stepped it up as well.”
The finish was a tough pill for the reigning champs to swallow, as the Maroons looked to meet the high level of competition that they had set for themselves all season.
“Going to New York and running at the Armory was really big deal,” Obuchowski said. “Everybody was really focused, but maybe we got too comfortable with the point lead… and at the end of the day we just fell a couple points short.”
The Maroons could feel Emory breathing down their necks for much of the meet, as the Eagles stayed close in every event.
Newhouse took first in the 200-meter run, winning gold with a time of 22.28. Even then, Emory took second and third in the event.
Second-year Drew Jackson also took the championship in the triple jump with a mark of 14.21 meters, but Emory again showed up just below Chicago in the standings, taking second and third once more.
“Naturally we were [nervous],” Jackson said. “Emory had a great day the second day; a lot of their guys stepped up.”
Still, with a large cohort of scorers, the Maroons stayed confident.
Obuchowski won the 55-meter dash, taking first place with a time 6.50, 0.04 seconds ahead of third-year Bill Cheng, who took second.
Second-year Andrew Wells-Qu and third-year Alex Garbier also joined Jackson in posting NCAA Division III qualifying marks. Wells-Qu placed second in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:53.48, while Garbier took third in the mile with a 4:15.59 finish.
Chicago picked up considerable points in the poll vault, as fourth-year Seth Satterlee and third-year John Pribik tied for second place in the event, clearing 4.38 meters.
Third-years Patrick Offner and Terrence Robertson also earned all-UAA honors, as Offner took third in the 400-meter dash (50.60) and Robertson registered a third-place finish in the long jump (6.57 meters).
Matching Chicago’s performance, though, was Emory, which claimed a large share of the meet’s top finishes, with three UAA championships and 12 all-UAA performances overall.
With the meet on the line in the second heat of the 4×400 relay, all of the teams crowded around the track, pushing their squads to the finish. Carnegie entered the race in first with 101 points, just four points ahead of Chicago and five ahead of Emory.
“It was a lot of energy,” Jackson said. “All the teams were around the track, and we had a lot of alumni there, too… Everybody was ecstatic and cheering, trying to help our guys…so it was a great feeling.”
1.05 seconds wound up deciding the meet, as Emory finished with a time of 3:21.01, edging Carnegie and Chicago to take the crown.
“Overall we’re disappointed we didn’t win, but to finish third and miss out by three points is still pretty good,” Newhouse said.
Now the team moves into the outdoor season, where Chicago expects to make up for the weekend’s narrow loss with a UAA title.
“We’re not going to play the blame game and say, ‘Well, we lost points here and lost points there.’ We’re just going to work on getting better,” Newhouse said. “I expect us to come back with a chip on our shoulders and win outdoor conference.”