Maroons face high hurdles in Chicagolands’ crowded field

The track and field team competes in its second event of the outdoor season this weekend. The team will play host to a small army at Chicagoland Championships.

By Steve Saltarelli

The track and field team competes in its second event of the outdoor season this weekend. The team will play host to a small army at Chicagoland Championships.In total, 992 collegiate athletes will be out on the Ted Haydon Track today and tomorrow, crowning it the largest track and field competition the University has ever held.With more participants comes more competition, something the Maroons are eagerly awaiting. This weekend the men will face stiff opposition in the form of 11th-ranked North Central College, as well as D-I foes DePaul, UIC, and Loyola. The women will be challenged by the same D-I squads, in addition to a North Central team boasting the number 10 ranking in the country.“The competition this weekend is at a higher level than last weekend. This should inspire and lead us to faster times, longer and higher jumps, and further throws,” fourth-year sprinter Herman Reeves said.Given the nascence of the outdoor season, the South Siders’ main goal in practice this week has simply been acclimating to a roofless environment, as well as meeting the added challenge of early spring Chicago weather.“We are still working hard in the weight room, and right now we are just trying to get as much throwing in as possible. It’s tough with all the bad weather we have had lately. This week we weren’t able to throw Monday and we compete Friday, so we have only had about three days worth of throwing, which is tough when you are trying to learn new events,” third-year thrower Claire Ray said.With the UAA Championships on April 25 at Carnegie Mellon quickly approaching, the Maroons have been trying to balance a focus on fundamentals with a desire to reach peak performance sooner than later.“The fundamentals are always part of our workout. Although we may not focus on fundamentals, they remain an active part of our routine for preparation. As we keep those fundamentals present we try to make our performances better each week. With the UAA Championships fast approaching, we are definitely shifting workout routines so that we are as prepared as possible to make a run for that title,” Reeves said.On Saturday the men will look for strong efforts from third-year sprinters Bill Cheng and Blake Obuchowski, as well as a repeat performance from third-year Terrence Robertson, who took home first place in both the long jump and the high jump in last weekend’s Ted Haydon Invitational.On the women’s side, it’s all about the throwers. Ray and third-year Nicole Murphy will lead the charge, which will no doubt be aided by second-year sprinter Stephanie Omueti, who won two events last Saturday.In the end though, the Maroons have deep squads on each side of the gender line, with rosters packed with athletes capable of placing in their respective events. If the Maroons have their way, Friday and Saturday will have tolerable weather, a packed house, and a first-place finish.“I think after benefiting from another week of practice, our team is going to make big improvements,” Ray said.The festivities begin with the women’s meet today at noon and continue tomorrow at 9 a.m. in what promises to be a long weekend at the Ted Haydon Track.