Track sets brisk pace at Elmhurst Invitational

By Kathryn Stewart

The spring season kicked off for men’s and women’s track on a day that felt very much like winter. That didn’t stop the Maroons from posting a number of performances that smacked of late May.

Competing in less than ideal conditions, the women picked up where they left off in the indoor season at the Elmhurst Invitational Saturday. Receiving exceptional performances in almost every event, the Maroons cruised to victory with 212 points, nearly double the total of their closest competition. Competing against a more balanced field, the men finished fifth with 82 points, but submitted several individual superb effort.

The women were solid through and through on the track, with second-years Nofi Mojidi (26.47) and Cynthia Lin (27.56) going 1–2 in the 200-meter dash, and fourth-year Jessica Winter (2:17.76) and first-year Missy Graham (2:28.82) following suit with top honors in the 800-meter run. Third-years Al Robertson (4:50.48), Jackie Kropp (4:56.70), and Vidthya Abraham (5:03.09) pulling off a sweep in the 1,500-meter run, and classmate Amanda Slagel (1:14.20) triumphed in the 400-meter hurdles.

Chicago capped off their day on the oval with a dominating performance in the relays, where the Maroons recorded esay victories in the 4×100- (49.34) and 4×400-meter (4:20.60) events, and a great showing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, where fourth-year Annie Sanders (12:08.60) and second-year Hannah Moots (12:34.80) grabbed the gold and silver spots.

Chicago’s jumpers reigned supreme in their first go of the season, as third-year Trina Ruhland and second-year Natalia Estrada took first and second in the pole vault with leaps of 2.75 and 2.29 meters while Lin and Hirve raked in the two top spots in the triple jump with 10.69 and 10.66.

“I think the women feel very good about where we are as a team right now,” Sanders said. “We established a really solid starting point this weekend.”

With their counterparts on the women’s team on pace to capture the meet, the men battled against it out against a group of tougher opponents. The distance team stood out, staging several noteworthy races. Fourth-year Teage O’Connor, running his first 3,000-meter steeplechase in two years, sailed to the top spot in 9:35.40, and third-year Emil Bojanov crossed the line in 15:09.10 to post a first-place finish with a new personal record in the 5,000-meter run. Coming home in fourth behind Bojanov, cross-country first-year John Ascolese continued to set himself apart from the rest with his 15:40.50 performance.

“I’m happy with the way the men competed on Saturday. Some of our athletes were out with injuries or just feeling under the weather,” head coach Chris Hall said.

With just two meets left to prepare for UAAs, both teams like their chances at the meet. The men are looking to improve on the fourth-place finish to the winter season while the women’s team expects to pick up some additional points from the newly added 4×800 relay to the competition.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Ruhland said. “Conference is closing in fast, but we’re not afraid.”

Before racing into the postseason, the Maroons have the Chicagolands Championship in Naperville next weekend. Competition will be fierce for both teams in the two-day event.