Sports

South Siders fight for NCAA berths

Last chance meets provides opportunity to try new events

Photo: Darren Leow/The Chicago Maroon
Third-year Rachel Ohman (left) and second-year Julia Sizek (right) compete at a meet earlier this year. Sizek will anchor the distance medley relay tonight.

After top-three finishes by men’s and women’s track and field last weekend at the UAA Championship, this Friday’s North Central Last Chance Meet remains the final opportunity for those seeking a spot in the D-III National Championship March 11 and 12.

“The meet on Friday is for anyone who wants to qualify for nationals, and we already have some kids who made nationals, so they will use this meet as preparation,” second-year sprinter Demetrios Brizzolara said. “It’s voluntary, so you only have to run it if you want to prove you can compete at nationals or want to get experience.”

“We can tailor this meet to individuals,” fourth-year sprinter Patrick Kacsur added. “The races we would run to do well as a team during the conference meet wouldn’t necessarily be the ones that are good for this meet.”

The same approach prevails on the women’s side.

“There’s an experimental type of mood in preparing for this meet. People are trying some events that they may not have tried before,” fourth-year long jumper Dipti Karmarkar said. “People are just trying to compete in whatever event they can. We’re just trying to get as many people to qualify as we can.”

Despite this method, there is still serious competition in the last indoor event of the year.

“These meets are where most of the individual performances are the best,” fourth-year sprints runner Stephanie Omueti added. “People fly from all over the country for these last chance meets.”

“In the past, the conference meet was the last week of the indoor season,” fourth-year hurdler Brian Andreycak said. “With the last chance meet this season, a number of us are going to be trying to maintain our peak performance for another week or two.”

And on the men’s side, there could be more on the line than just a high finish. The 4×400 relay team consisting of first-year Jackson Jenkins, Brizzolara, and fourth-years Andrew Wells-Qu and Tobias Blattler is in position to set a school record.

“The record would be amazing for our school,” Brizzolara continued. “Individual performances reflect on the team, and if we end up setting the record, it gives our group a lot of recognition.”

Yet even with the potential for accolades, both teams are going into the meet in a relaxed state of mind.

“The team as a whole doesn’t really have expectations. Only the individuals have marks they want to hit,” Karmarkar continued. “We’re just hoping to improve on our performances and qualify for the national meet the following weekend.”

As Omueti put it, “There just isn’t any pressure on the team to win the meet. We all just need to give it our last shot as individuals during the indoor season. We’re in our best shape, and there’s nothing that should hold back a great year. We’re all set and ready to go.”

The meet takes place this Friday at noon in Naperville, IL.