Saturday’s Margaret Bradley Invitational was a comprehensive victory for the Maroons. It was a welcome result as the team heads into next weekend’s UAA Championships in New York City.
“I was pleased by our performances this weekend,” fourth-year Jaleesa Akuoko said. “We had a lot of athletes win their events on Saturday and achieve significant [personal bests]. This meet, we were practicing how to compete strategically, which is vital for next weekend, as well as practicing how to win. I think we did well.”
The women won the Invitational with 174.5 points, nearly 60 more than their closest competitor, Carthage (116). The point differential says it all.
Victory was, in many ways, only a secondary goal this weekend. The primary focus was improving individual times and placement on the conference honor rolls before next week’s conference championship. Chicago managed to do both with some success.
The Maroons won six events out of 15 in which they competed, and 23 Maroons recorded season best times. Not all of those times were good enough to challenge for conference, but they were a mark of how well the team performed and a testament to the intensity they brought to the meet, when they might well have won without those times.
Third-year Julia Sizek recorded Chicago’s first win of the day in the mile run, posting a time of (5:13.00) to place her seventh on the conference honor roll. Her victory was part of a 1–2–3 finish by the Maroons in the mile, with second-year Sarah Peluse (5:23.81) and third-year Sonia Kahn (5:24.13) also posting season best times to place second and third, respectively.
It was a good day for the sprinters as well. Akuoko won the 400-meter (1:01.95), and seven other women recorded season best times to go along with a team victory in the 4×400 relay.
“The sprinters had a slow start to the season,” Akuoko said. “But this meet, almost every sprinter had a personal or season’s best in their events, setting us up nicely for UAAs.”
“I won my event by running strategically, but my time could have been a lot better. Hopefully, I’ll be posting up a big performance next weekend.”
In another notable showing, fourth-year Rachel Ohman smashed her season best to win the 3000-meter (10:22.21), ranking her 10th in the conference. First-year Pam Yu also solidified her second-place conference rank, finishing first in the triple jump (11.06m) to drop fourth-year Madison Allen into second place (10.89m.)
Perhaps the most eye-catching win of the day, though, came from third-year Kayla McDonald in the 800-meter. McDonald broke her own school record (2:16.29) to move her up to second in the conference rankings. She finished ahead of first-year Jillian Ojeda (2:22.23) and second-year Michaela Whitelaw (2:22.34) for another Chicago 1–2–3.
The men won their meet with a total of 173 points, defeating their nearest competitor, Aurora, by 57 points. Fourth-year Tyler Calway won the 55-meter hurdles, second-year Jackson Jenkins won the 400-meter dash, third-year Avery Mainardi won the 800-meter run, second-year Sam Butler won the 5,000-meter, first-year Ryan O’Donnell won the mile, fourth-year Robert Cooper won the 3,000-meter, first-year Semi Ajibola won the high jump, and fourth-year Donny Chi won the long jump.
Third-year top sprinter Dee Brizzolara was out with an injury to his oblique, and the Maroons’ top distance runner, third-year Billy Whitmore, didn’t compete, in preparation for the UAAs.
While there was a lot to cheer about on Saturday, Chicago must now turn their attention to the conference meet. They are hoping that this weekend will provide a confidence boost.
“We’re competing very well right now,” Akuoko said. “This was a fantastic final meet. We felt like a team—we were inspired by each other’s performances and supportive of our teammates. I am really proud of how our team has shaped up over the course of the season.”