Conference championships await squad in Atlanta

The track squad heads into their conference championship meet this weekend. The team boasts several top contenders heading into the post-season.

By Andrew Beytagh

This weekend marks the culmination of the outdoor conference track season, as the Maroons will travel down to Atlanta, GA to compete in the UAA Championships at Emory.

Previously, Chicago’s women’s and men’s teams finished first and second respectively at home in March during the conference’s indoor championships. The men’s indoor season came down to the wire. To take first, they needed to finish ahead of Wash U in the meet’s final event, the 4×400-meter. However, they ended up placing second behind the Bears and falling one point short of first overall for the weekend.

Among some of the South Siders’ strongest performers from the outdoor season is first-year Patrick LeFevre, who currently holds the third-best time in the 110-meter hurdles this season in the conference.

“At this point in the season we have already raced many times, so we know what to do and how to do it. Even though it is the UAAs it’s good to stay on a routine to keep the body fresh and feeling good,” said LeFevre on his preparation.

Looking back, LeFevre also recalled his second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the indoor UAAs in March, where he finished just a 10th of a second shy of first. “Above all else, I’m ready for a high hurdle rematch; indoor conference is as fresh in my mind today as it was over a month ago in Henry Crown. It’s going to be a great weekend,” he said.

There are other considerations heading into the weekend. Because this is just the fourth meet of Chicago’s outdoor season, being fresh is not the only concern when trying to stay in top shape. “We tapered a little this week physically in order to be at peak performance this weekend,” said third-year Mikaela Hammel.

LeFevre also pointed out that, despite the season’s brevity, there are still quite a number of players who are banged up or coming up off recent injuries.

The abbreviated outdoor season has presented other challenges for the Maroons. The weather has cut short some of the team’s opportunities to race competitively.

“Our biggest challenge this weekend will be possessing confidence,” Hammel said. “We haven’t had great weather and the girls basically missed one meet, and thus we haven’t put up as many superb times and don’t have as much of a presence as we did on the conference leaderboards indoors.”

Hammel, in her experience with UAAs, has learned how important confidence can be to performing well. At indoor UAAs this year, she finished second overall in the 400-meter, breaking the school record twice in the process.

“From indoors I learned that you have to go into these championship meets with confidence and acting like you belong there,” Hammel said. “A lot of times you don’t have to have an elevated performance—you just need to do what you’ve been doing all season and you need to believe in yourself that you can perform.”

Chicago’s team appears to be in good spirits heading into the weekend, exhibiting the confidence that will be imperative to put up winning numbers in Atlanta. Competition begins at Emory starting at 7 a.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. on Sunday.