Track Gears Up for NCAAs

UChicago’s Track and Field teams train intensively for their impending NCAA Championship Meet.

By Daniel Zea

Closing out an exciting regular season, the men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams travelled back to North Central College last week to compete in the Gregory Invitational. As the final meet before the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships and the last meet of some of the fourth-years’ collegiate careers, the Maroons gave it all they had in Naperville, resulting in a number of standout performances. Commenting on the significance of the meet for his fourth-year teammates, second-year Jack Barbour remarked, “Since this was the last meet for most of our seniors, it was great to just get out there and appreciate the culmination of their four years here.”

The women’s team made sure to go out with a bang in the final regular season meet, enjoying a number of excellent performances and top finishes. In running events, fourth-year Tali Naibryf placed second in the 200 meters while fourth-year Nicole VacaGuzman also managed a second-place finish in the 400 meters, trailed by third-year Mary Martin in fifth. However, VacaGuzman will not be hanging up her spikes quite yet, as she qualified to compete at nationals in the 800 meters. As for the long-distance events, second-year Zoe Smith enjoyed a fourth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Finally, in field events, both Martin and third-year Laura Darcey captured victories in the long jump and high jump respectively. For Darcey, the meet will hopefully prove to be useful preparation, as she qualified to compete at the national championships in the same event. First-year Isabel Maletich will join her and VacaGuzman at nationals, as well, as she qualified for both the long jump and triple jump. Naibryf, VacaGuzman, and Martin will also take part in the 4×400-meter relay at nationals with first-year Meg Fitzpatrick.

The men similarly did not disappoint in the final competition of the regular season. To cap off a string of phenomenal performances, first-year Henry Myers took fourth in the 1,500 meters, earning a spot at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships in the process. Commenting on Myers’s impressive accomplishment, Barbour said, “I think the highlight of the meet was to see Henry Myers qualify for nationals in the 1,500. He’s been working super hard this season, and it’s really exciting to see any teammate have this sort of success, especially a freshman.” Also turning in a solid performance in Naperville was the men’s 4×400-meter relay team, which came in fifth. Finally, third-year Alexander Scott capped off his season with a pair of victories, taking first in both the discus and shot put.

Despite battling and overcoming numerous obstacles at the outset of this year’s outdoor season, both the men and women finished strong this past week at the Gregory Invitational. Speaking about the season overall, Barbour stated, “Coming off the indoor season we were all super excited to see how we could keep improving…and although we got off to kind of a slow start transitioning to the outdoor track, the past few weeks we’ve see a lot of [personal records] and great performances so it’s been a great way to close out the season.” Indeed, the Maroons enjoyed a high level of personal achievement all around this spring, turning in a season in be proud of. Now, both teams will join the rest of the university in cheering on Myers, Darcey, Fitzpatrick, Maletich, Martin, Naibryf, and VacaGuzman as they prepare to compete in Geneva, Ohio, at the Division III Outdoor National Championships May 23 through May 25.