First of last chance meets kick off with North Central

The men’s and women’s track and field teams will send individuals to North Central to compete in the first of a series of last chance meets in hopes of making qualifying marks for NCAA Nationals.

By Russell Mendelson

In their first meet following conference championships in Atlanta, GA the Maroons will compete in day two of the Dr. Keeler Invite at North Central.

Chicago had a strong showing at the UAA championships hosted by Emory, where the women took the top prize, winning their first UAA outdoor championship in school history while the men finished third overall, 88 points behind the host and eventual winner of the meet, the Emory Eagles. With four meets condensed into just three weeks time, the South Siders had their first opportunity at an elongated rest in what has been at times a hurried and intense outdoor season.

“The team has certainly had its fair share of injuries this outdoor season, myself included. The two weekends away from competition are allowing me to focus on rehabbing my knee rather than just adding to its stress,” explained second-year thrower Brandon Dixon. “The fact that I will be that much closer to a hundred percent next time I throw competitively is a huge advantage for me.”

In order to prepare for next week’s last chance meet before the National Championships, Dixon will be sitting out this week’s meet to be as close to his peak capabilities.

“It’s a really long year for us so it’s tough to maintain the same level of energy that we had in indoor or even in football this late in the year,” recounted third-year sprinter and running back on the Chicago football team Ben Clark. “It helps having younger guys on the relays whose legs aren’t quite as fatigued.”

Despite the heat and fatigue, Clark did not appear to slow down last month, helping his teammates finish first and second respectively in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Clark was also part of the indoor 4x400m squad that represented Chicago at the indoor National Championships in March, qualifying at a last chance meet less than a week before the flight down to North Carolina.

“We’re hoping to recapture some of the magic that we had in the 4×4 indoors. We made a hell of a run late in the season to qualify in that event, and we have the talent to make it back,” said Clark on the team’s ability to replicate the experience in both the 4x400m and the 4x100m. “If we’re healthy and can execute the exchanges in the 4×1, then we’ll accomplish that goal.”

For some athletes, though, today’s meet is a chance for them to end the season on a high note. Hopefully, for them, a sweeter taste in their mouths will serve as a form of motivation in both their offseason workouts as well as the following season’s competition.

“Overall, I was pretty disappointed in my performance at UAA’s,” noted Dixon. “Given the opportunity to leave the season on a high note though means a lot in terms of the momentum I can harness going into offseason training. To get to that high note, I just need to get in the ring and really show me something.”

Watch the Maroons finish up their meet in Naperville at 3 p.m. this afternoon.