Chicago Invitational shows promise for both men and women

The Windy City Invitational hosted 14 teams with the Maroon men and women both coming away in the number one position.

By Russell Mendelson

In their first of three home meets for the month, the Maroons left a strong impression on their UChicago audience, as both men’s and women’s teams took first in the Windy City Invitational this past Saturday.

In a crowded field of 14 teams, the women charged ahead with a 68-point gap between them and runner-up Loyola, finishing with 159 total points on the day. The men also left their competition in the dust, beating Valparaiso by 56.5 points and closing out the afternoon with a final score of 137.

The men recorded four top finishes, including a first place win in the 60m hurdles for first-year Patrick LeFevre. LeFevre just missed the top spot last weekend after finishing in a virtual tie on paper. Third-year Michael Bennett recorded the highest vault in the pole vault, and third-year Ben Clark and second-year Michael Shumaker took first in the 400m and 3000m, respectively. Shumaker commented on both his and the teams’ excellent results.

“I think the purpose of the meet was to build our confidence,” Shumaker said. “We put down some great times, and that will only help us as we head to Chicagolands and eventually UAAs.”

The women had three top individual finishers of their own. Second-year Michelle Dobbs and third-year Brianna Hickey led the way in both the 400m and 800m. Fourth-year Pam Yu recorded the farthest distance on her way to winning the triple jump with a length of 10.73m.

“I took a week off last week to nurse my knee injury and focus on strengthening and conditioning,” explained Yu, who thought the week off was crucial to her strong showing on Saturday.

“The biggest challenge heading into this meet was definitely keeping my knee from further injury and also working through the injury to compete,” said Yu.

Yu also finished second in the long jump with a distance of 5.19 meters.

“The main reason for running the 400 this weekend for me was to prepare for the 800 next weekend,” noted Dobbs on her preparation for the meets leading up to the UAAs in the coming weeks.

“I’ve been working the past couple of weeks on really getting some speed work back into my workouts as well so that helped to prepare for this 400,” said Dobbs.

Overall, this was a meet where many of the Chicago competitors focused on their secondary events as a “trial run” for next weekend’s Chicagoland Championships in Naperville, IL The upcoming meet at North Central is key for athletes still looking to improve their times for the conference.

“The team has been fairly successful so far but what’s exciting to me is that much of our team still has improvements that are within reach,” Dobbs said.

She is also confident that with additional mid-season training the team can make even greater strides.

“We have stacked up well against other teams in the early season, and it will be very exciting to see how we can compete on a bigger stage as everyone begins to reach their peak fitness and training,” said Dobbs.

This is the part of the season where training and weekly meets can put a strain on an athlete’s physical and mental toughness. Most teammates agree that in order to remain competitive down the stretch, it is imperative that they fine-tune the little things that can bring them to both a new level of preparation and performance which will translate into further success.