Summer Breeze not enough to keep Chicago off the track

Missing Summer Breeze is unfortunate, but the Maroons would rather be on the track

By Gracie Sonnabend

While Summer Breeze takes over the quads this Saturday, members of the track and field team will have their second-to-last opportunity to land national slots at the Chicago Penultimate. The meet follows the Benedictine and Wisconsin Twilight Invitationals in the build-up to the North Central Last Chance meet and the Division III Nationals.

The meet takes place throughout the day, which means that many of the athletes will miss out on the Summer Breeze festivities. However, for many, the prospect of running for the last time on their home track is more than enough of a reason to ditch their final Summer Breeze. “I’m a little disappointed,” said fourth-year sprinter and hurdler Ashley Eaves. “But you do what you have to do. It’s a chance to go to nationals.”

The Chicago Penultimate didn’t interfere with Summer Breeze two years ago. Last year, however, the NCAA Championship was moved a week earlier, shifting the entire schedule up and bumping the Penultimate into the weekend of Summer Breeze. “I’m not really concerned,” said third—year jumper Paige Peltzer. “I went my first year and had a good time. I understand how the first years who have never been would be disappointed.”

Meets in the last few weeks of the season, like the Penultimate, tend to encourage athletes to chase after fast times with pace rabbits. Under ordinary circumstances, most runners would prefer not to lead races until the last few laps, as running behind an opponent is easier, both mentally and physically. As a result, paces often lag because no one runner wants to lead the race. Pace rabbits are utilized to make sure this doesn’t happen.

“I feel a little more confident that the race will pan out the way I expect it,” said fourth-year steeplechaser Nick Nunez. “All I have to rely on is my fitness and not my tactics.” Assistant Coach Dan Edwards, formally a member of Colorado’s prestigious distance running program, will rabbit the steeplechase.

The fact that the meet is a home event allows Chicago to have some fun on the side as well. Chicago’s throw squad will be partaking in a 4×100 meter relay, giving them a rare opportunity to shine on the track. “It’s getting towards the end of the year, and I think it’s important to try things like this,” said Peltzer. “It’s fun to see people try new things that we can all laugh at together.”

Trying new events isn’t just for laughs, however. Also trying a new event is second-year sprinter Demetrios Brizzolara. In high school, Brizzolara’s best event was the 300 meter intermediate hurdles. Last year, however, the team needed Brizzolara in other events, and he didn’t get the chance to hurdle. This weekend, he’ll finally get to return to his roots by running the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.

Most recently, three Maroons achieved nationally-qualifying performances at the Wisconsin Twilight Invitational. Fourth-year Kristin Constantine, named a UAA Most Outstanding Performer in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, made a 13.27 m throw in the shotput and a 51.43 m toss in the hammer throw, winning the event. Brian Andreycak and Andrew Wells-Qu, also fourth-years, ran 1:51:02 min in the 800-meter and 14.82 sec over the 110-meter hurdles, respectively.

Chicago will host fellow NCAA Division III teams and unattached runners at Ted Haydon Track, 1 p.m. Augustana, DePaul and Millikin are expected to be in attendance, among others. The meet begins with concurrent jumping and throwing events, followed by running events from 4 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.