At Wheaton, fifth doesn’t quite cut it

By Katie Burkhart

Women’s track and field was left wondering what might have been after a fifth-place finish at the Wheaton College Twilight Invitational on Saturday.

Chicago finished with a total score of 77, behind North Central College (178.50), Illinois Wesleyan (175.50), Carthage (133.50), and host Wheaton (93).

It was by no means an embarrassing finish, especially given the strength of the field, but the Maroons were disappointed with a performance they feel didn’t live up to their potential.

“Some people had some really good PRs in various events,” said third-year Vicky Espinoza. “Others would have liked to have seen better improvements.”

“We went up against a lot of very good teams this weekend, and held our own despite not running the full caliber of our team,” second-year Kiko Wemmer said. “Some girls didn’t compete at all, and some didn’t compete in their usual events.”

Despite those obstacles, the Maroons upheld their status as one of the teams to watch at the impending conference championship, which will take place in two weeks.

Espinoza, in fact, set a new personal record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. “I went into this meet ideally wanting to PR by 20 seconds, but told myself that if I at least beat last race’s time, I would be happy,” she said. She went on to take fourth place with a time of 12:13.68, beating her target by two seconds.

Other performances, including a one-two finish in the 3,000-meter by third-year Sarah Peluse (10:30.68) and fourth-year Jane Simpson (10:41.26), indicated that the Maroons’ somewhat lukewarm final placing was by no means due to a lack of quality.

“I was disappointed that there wasn’t anyone faster than Jane and me in the race,” Peluse said. “It would have been more fun if there was more competition.”

Espinoza’s account of her race also pays tribute to the team’s efforts to create a more supportive atmosphere this year. “I usually block out spectators, but this time I [took] in the excitement of the race and teammates’ cheers. It was fun to see my teammates at every corner,” she said.

Chicago also saw impressive performances from first-year Reecie Dern on the field, earning points in the shot put, discus, and hammer throw events (finishing fourth, fourth, and seventh respectively). Other top point winners were third-year Kayla McDonald with a second-place finish in the 800-meter run (2:14.17), fourth-year high-jumper Paige Peltzer (1.52m, fourth place), and fourth-year Madison Allen in the long jump (5.18m, fourth place).

Despite a mixed day at Wheaton, the real take-home point from Saturday is that the Maroons are one step closer—and better prepared—for the Conference Championships. “This was another tune-up,” Wemmer said. “It was just another chance to run fast times, get into the fast sections at conference, and get into a competitive mindset.”

The Maroons will next compete at the DePaul invite this Friday and Saturday at DePaul University.