Maroons make history in Atlanta as women win UAA title

With high stakes, the South Siders prove their mettle as the women take first in the UAA Championships and the men finish third.

By Andrew Beytagh

At the 2015 UAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, the women’s squad snagged the conference title with 193 points, while the men placed third with 197 points.

Day one of competition for the women saw spectacular performances in field events. The South Siders captured an impressive four victories, all of which played a part in the 76 points they had after day one. Points which put them a comfortable distance ahead of the rest of the field.

Specifically, third-year thrower Nkemdilim Nwaokolo dominated the day, taking the individual titles for both the shot put and hammer throw. First-year Ade Ayoola and fourth-year Kelly Wood placed third in shot put and hammer throw, respectively. Fourth-year Pam Yu finished at the top in the long jump at 5.23 meters, while third-year teammate Rachel Jackson placed third with a distance of 5.05 meters.

Andrew Maneval, a second-year thrower, commented on Nwaokolo’s spectacular performance during day one of the Championships.

“Nkem has always been a dominating force in the UAA, and she continued that by entering and winning the gold in all three of her events. It was an outstanding performance, and she deserves it because she has been working very hard to get to this point.”

The women’s team capped off an impressive first day with a blistering UAA record time of 9:07.68 in the 4×800-meter relay. The team of third-year Brianna Hickey, first-year Cassidy McPherson, fourth-year Jennifer Uehling, and second-year Michelle Dobbs broke the previous conference record by almost 10 seconds.

The men’s side also saw impressive performances during day one. After the first day’s events, Chicago stood in fourth place with 35 points, but they were well behind Washington University in St. Louis, which had 85 points. Fourth-year Kevin On highlighted a solid day for the men, winning the 10,000-meter with a time of 31:56.66.

Day two provided a lot of fireworks on both sides. For the women, the day kicked off with third-year Nelson Trotter winning both the high jump and the triple jump.

Trotter commented on the weekend saying, “I never could have won two individual events without the support of my teammates. The entire weekend in Atlanta was filled with such positivity and support that everyone felt motivated to perform well. I went out and did my best in each event because I knew my teammates wanted to take home a conference champion title—something the women’s outdoor track and field team has never accomplished.”

Trotter added, “Another contributing factor to my double wins would be the waffles from Waffle House I ate the night before my competition. Those waffles are delicious.”

Trotter’s teammates followed closely behind, as Yu placed second in the triple jump, and Ayoola second in the high jump. Nwaokolo capped off her sweep of the throwing events with a first place discus toss of 39.99 meters. On the track, Michelle Dobbs raced to an impressive win in the 800-meter with a time of 2:12.94.

The men’s team shined on the track during the second day. The Maroons began the day with a .07 second win in the 4×100-meter relay, a relay made up of second-year Temisan Owosa, first-year Nathan Downey, third-year Ben Clark, and third-year Jacob Romeo. The men continued this momentum with Downey grabbing second place in the 200-meter and Romeo sprinting to a third-place finish in the 100-meter dash.  The men capped off a spectacular day two with a second-place finish in the 4×400-meter relay. The team of first-year Obi Wamuo, Clark, third-year Ryan Manzuk, and Downey finished with a time of 3:20.82.

At the end of the Championships, the Maroon women came out on top as they clinched their first ever UAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. The men’s team improved their fourth-place standing after the first day to third by the conclusion of competition.

Third-year Mikaela Hammel commented on the coaching during the two days, saying, “Our coaches played a big part in pumping us up and making sure we were confident. They kept reminding us that a little over a month ago we had walked away with the indoor trophy, and that we were the same team and just had to walk into the outdoor meet with our heads held high and do what we knew we could do.”

Chicago’s next meet will take place Thursday and Friday, May 7–8, at North Central College at 12:15 p.m.