At the UAA Championships, the women’s track and field team narrowly fell short of their goal for the second time in two weeks.
At last weekend’s Eagle Invite, the Maroons finished second to UW-Whitewater by just half a point. Going into this week’s UAAs, their expectations were more modest. They were aiming for second, but were edged out by Emory, which notched 169.5 points to Chicago’s 167. Nine-time defending champion Wash U was expected to win once again and didn’t disappoint, racking up 231.5 points on the weekend.
“The loss was disappointing, especially for our seniors, but what matters is that we came with our best and competed our best,” second-year sprinter Stephanie Omueti said. “We left it all on the track for one another.”
Omueti was one of eight Maroons who earned All-UAA honors for her performance. She captured first place in both the 100-meter and the 200-meter with times of 12.75s and 25.33s. She also teamed up with fellow second-years Ashley Eaves and Jordan Dexter as well as first-year Jalessa Akuoko to finish second in the 4×100-meter relay.
Other winning Maroon efforts were turned in by fourth-year Rachel Venezia, who earned first place in the 3000-meter steeplechase by finishing in 11:17.92 and by third-year Claire Ray. Ray won three events. She set UAA records in the hammer and the discus with respective throws of 51.47m and 45.10m. Her winning shot put of 13.95m also met the provisional standard as did the 13.61m throw of third-year Nicole Murphy, who finished second in the event.
First-year Paige Peltzer was positive that she could hit the high jump’s provisional qualifying mark heading into the UAA meet.
“Last week I was close to clearing 5-foot-5, but didn’t. I was close, so I feel confident that I can, and I’m even more determined to now,” Peltzer said last week.
That determination paid off and she did clear 5-foot-5 (1.66m), a performance that was good enough to put her second in the event, behind Case’s Erin Hollinger.
While Maroons recorded numerous provisional qualifying marks, runners were prevented from recording peak times by the headwinds that blew through Carnegie’s Gesling Stadium. Omueti expressed disappointment that the direction of the sprints was not reversed so that they could run with rather than against the wind.
“I was not prepared for the officials to leave the track in the direction of the wind and not reverse,” she said. “I just felt it was a waste of competition and good running weather to not reverse the track.”
“I think I could definitely have posted NCAA automatic times were it not for the headwind I faced,” Omueti added.
In a season with only six events in which to qualify for the Nationals, any missed opportunity looms large. However, the Maroons must now turn to preparing for the last two meets of the regular season, which begin with the Chicago Penultimate in two weeks’ time.
“I think in order to move forward, we as a team need to put this weekend behind us and see it as a practice meet for the two coming up,” Omueti said.