Five Maroons get invites to NCAA meet

The Last Chance is past, and five Chicago women have gotten the green light for Nationals.

By Alex Sisto

The Last Chance is past, and five Chicago women have gotten the green light for Nationals.With the final numbers in from last week’s Last Chance meet at North Central, the list of qualifiers for nationals was released this weekend, spurring both satisfaction and disappointment for the men and women. Five U of C women qualified in eight events, while none of the men made the final cut. In the field, third-year Claire Ray will be competing in the shot put, hammer throw, and discus, third-year Nicole Murphy in shot put and discus, and first-year Paige Peltzer in the high jump. On the track, second-year Stephanie Omueti made the cut in both the 100 and 200 meters and fourth-year Rachel Venezia will be running the 3000-meter steeplechase.Head coach Chris Hall is looking forward to this weekend, saying that he “feels good about the women going into the NCAAs. Each of them has an opportunity to do something great.”Hall is confident in the women’s ability to cope with the additional pressures of the national meet, explaining that “without exception, every one of them has been to a national meet.”Venezia attributed her performance to the coaching staff.“I wanted to make it to Nationals for my coaches, especially Coach Hall who has done a ‘really outstanding’ (his trademark phrase) job training me in college,” Venezia said. “In high school, I was nearly three minutes slower in the 5K than what I ran last spring (17:30), and I completely credit my improvement to his training plan and dedication to coaching.”The national meet begins this Thursday, leaving the women with only a few days to prepare before they depart for Marietta, OH, where this year’s meet will be held. As most of the hard training is over, the athletes will now focus on maintaining their edge.“To prepare for Nationals I just want to stay healthy and fit. We are shifting to a very light and explosive weight room program. I need to work on my block starts; staying relaxed but still explosive coming out,” Omueti said. “That is what I am most nervous about. I know if I can come out of the blocks as explosively as I have done earlier in the season and get to my top speed early in the race, nothing will stop me from being at the top of the podium when all is said and done.” Despite some outstanding performances, last week’s meet marked the end of the season for the members of the men’s track team. Second-year Brian Andreycak had what Hall described as “a breakthrough day,” winning the 110-meter hurdles with a provisional qualifying time of 14.85 seconds. In the 800 meters, second-year Andrew Wells-Qu hit the provisional national qualifying time, clocking in at 1:52.48 seconds.“Just hitting the standards is a real accomplishment,” Hall said. “We had a pretty good showing on the team.” Concerning Nationals, he added that they are “supposed to be that elite and difficult to get into.”With Nationals so close at hand, the women are anxious to hit the road and finally put their All-American hopes to the test.“I squeaked into finals last year. This year I want to make it to the middle pool of the podium,” Omueti said. “My goals are to beat my seed and end up on top!”