Individuals to Prepare for Nationals at Valparaiso

Both the men’s and women’s track and field squads head to Valparaiso this weekend for the Crusader Open. The teams look to improve on their somewhat subpar performances in the UAA Championship and take down some DI teams.

By Erik Wong

This Saturday, the Maroons will compete in the Valparaiso Crusader Open at Valparaiso University in Indiana.

The men’s team, coming off of a fifth place finish out of seven teams at the UAA Outdoor Championships, has moved much of its focus toward individual athletes who have a chance to qualify for the NCAA DIII Outdoor Championships at the end of May.

The Maroons have performed well throughout the season, but at this point, individual athletes must come to light if they want to be a part of the Championship meet.

Third-year Joey Gary, who specializes in high jump, long jump, triple jump, and javelin, commented, “With some great performances behind us at UAA’s, team goals are more secondary, and people are refocusing to try and capitalize on good weather and throw down some fast times.”

Gary also noted, “Ryan Manzuk in particular has a great shot at qualifying for nationals in the 400 hurdles, perhaps the most difficult event out there,” shedding light on one of his teammates who has performed quite well this season. Manzuk, a fourth-year from Greenfield, Wisconsin, qualified for the NCAA Championship Meet in 2015 as part of the 4×400-meter relay, but has yet to make the championships in an individual event. With an impressive time of 54.14, recorded at the UAA Championships last weekend, Manzuk has a great chance to qualify for the Championship meet if he continues to run similar times.

Another notable performer for the men was third-year thrower Andrew Maneval, who placed first in shot put with a 15.4-meter throw.

As for the women’s squad, it is also all business at this time of the year. First-year sprinter Emma Koether stated, “In order to ensure that athletes perform in their top events, coaches have entered most individuals in fewer events than they typically run in one day.”

The women are coming off of a third place finish out of seven teams at last week’s UAA Outdoor Championships, which included key performances from fourth-year Nelson Trotter, second-year Megan Verner-Crist, and the 4×400-meter relay team, which included Koether. Trotter finished in first place in high jump with a 1.69-meter jump and Verner-Crist also placed first in the women’s 1,500-meter event with a time of 4:43.33.

The 4×400-meter relay team, including first-year Nicole VacaGuzman, fourth-year Mikaela Hammel, third-year Michelle Dobbs, and Koether finished in second place with a total time of 3:49.01. With an impressive UAA Championships, the women look to continue their success this weekend.

Koether also noted, “Women in events such as the 5000-meter, 800-meter, long jump, high jump, and many more are looking to hit national qualifying times this weekend.”

The University of Chicago Men’s and Women’s Track teams will compete in Valparaiso to solidify their positions in the NCAA DIII Championships in late May. The action starts this Saturday, April 30 at 11 a.m.