Track relay teams prove nothing like the first time

By Kim Song

After having come close to making the provisional mark the past few weeks, last weekend’s Distance Medley Relay teams finally found their stride at the Chicagoland Championships.

“I will probably brag about it this entire week,” said fourth-year Emily Kay of hitting the Div. III provisional national standard with her DMR team—composed of third-year Jessica Winter, fourth-year Stephanie St. Clair, and second-year Jackie Kropp—in 12:13.14.

The men’s team—first-year Ryan McCarl, second-year Emil Bojanov, graduate Jerome Thaurad, and fourth-year Brandon Halcott—also hit the mark with a time of 10:13.50, despite McCarl falling as he finished his 1200-meter leg and handed off the baton to the 400-meter runner, Halcott. “Splat,” was all McCarl had to say of the transaction.

Most impressively, both relay teams were running together for the first time, leaving plenty of room to improve. “To have both relays meet NCAA standards the first time we put them together was a great accomplishment,” head coach Chris Hall said. “It’s clear to me both teams can run much faster, and I believe that they will be much more motivated to chop off some time the next time we put them together.”

The relay teams were not the only ones to hit national standards this weekend. Just weeks after joining the team, first-year Myra Collins qualified in the long jump with her meet-winning mark of 5.59 meters.

“I’ve loved track for forever,” Myra said. “Long jump became my passion in 11th grade, and since then, my determination to get better has just grown.” The coaches are currently looking to refine some of her mechanics to get her to reach her maximum potential. “What’s exciting about Myra is that she has some technical things to still work out in the long jump,” Hall said. “When she gets those figured out she will go even further.”

Overall, the men finished 10th with 13 points and the women 8th with 32, both competing in a field of 16 teams. Facing Div. I and II schools from all over the Chicagoland area, the Maroons still had star-quality performances.

After weeks of racing the mile, fourth-year Sam Jacobson had a breakthrough with an impressive time of 4:29.15. When asked what he did differently, Jacobson said, “This weekend I went out more conservatively than usual—maybe too conservatively—but it allowed me the perverse pleasure of sprinting past some timid souls in the final meters.”

After a personal record-breaking performance in the 3k (10:53.02), first-year Hannah Moots was happy to help the team out. “Coach Hall says that if you get a personal best, you are making the team better, which is a reminder that running isn’t an individual sport at all,” Moots said.

Second-year Matt Kolbe ran a solid 200-meter run in 24.51 seconds to add to a 53.62 400 meter. “In the open quarter, we had a couple personal records,” Kolbe said. “As a group, the 400-meter runners and the team in general made some forward progress, and hopefully this’ll keep going into the UAA’s.”

With the UAA championships next weekend, the Maroons leave Thursday for NYU. Candidly, Hall shared that he’s “still not completely sure what the UAAs are going to have in store.”

That uncertainty may not be such a bad thing, however, as Chicago looks to improve on last year’s third-place finishes. The recent team success could be enough to challenge the conference’s best. “Both teams are going to be in a battle to win the UAA title. It seems Wash U will be our toughest competition for both the men and women,” Hall said.