Track Season Starts Strong, Runs Through Wheaton

The Chicago Track teams had success at the Wheaton College Invite, with the women placing second and the men put an athlete in the top two of six events.

By Miranda Burt

The University of Chicago’s track and field teams continued their strong start to their outdoor season on Saturday, as the women captured the Wheaton Invitational team title and the men took home second place overall. The Maroons outpaced eight teams on the women’s side by accumulating 166.5 points to take first place and beat host Wheaton’s 154 points. The men tallied 136 points in a ten-team invite, only falling short of North Central College (196 points).

On the women’s side, the South Siders had a first- or second-place finish in eleven events. First-year Alisha Harris, the UAA indoor Rookie of the Year and UAA indoor long jump champion, continued her strong collegiate track and field debut. Harris finished first in the long jump with a leap of 5.48 meters and also tacked on a second-place finish in the 200m dash (25.68). Another first-year, Isabel Garon, helped the Maroons to their victory as well, vaulting 3.52 meters to rack up yet another first-place finish. Third-year Khia Kurtenbach, this year’s indoor UAA 5,000-meter champion, collected a first-place finish (17:06.78) in the same event, blowing away the field by 31 seconds. 

The meet also marked the return of Michelle Dobbs, last year’s indoor NCAA 800-meter champion. The fourth-year took off this year’s indoor season in order to compete for the women’s basketball team, helping the Maroons to a second-round NCAA Tournament appearance. 

“Transitioning from basketball to track was a little bit of a shock with how quickly I started competing, but I’ve adjusted pretty well. I’ve found that I have a lot of speed right now, which has been good for my 400-meter races,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs picked up Saturday right where she left off, picking up a first-place finish in the 800-meter (2:17.25) and helping the 4×400-meter relay to a second-place finish (4:00.61). 

Dobbs reflected on the weekend, saying, “I’m still kind of getting into the swing of things with racing longer distances, so that’s what this weekend was about. There are so many factors that go into running a good 800, and I felt like a few of the pieces fell into place for me Saturday. There’s definitely still a lot of room for improvement though, which makes me look forward to being able to race it again.”

The men also found success Saturday, placing an athlete first or second in six events. Tyson Miller was the Maroons’ lone first-place finisher, winning the 400-meter dash (50.19). Andrew Maneval took second in two events, shot put (14.94 meters) and hammer throw (48.93 meters). 

Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams will be in action again this Friday and Saturday, as they compete in Lisle, IL in the Benedictine Relays. This will be the Maroons’ last meet before they host the UAA Championship on April 22 and 23.