In their final meet before the 2004 outdoor UAA Championships, the men's and women's track and field teams made their way down to Illinois State University for the Redbird Classic Invitational.
Competing against mostly Division I opposition and in unseasonably warm 90-degree weather, the Maroons faired relatively well in the unscored meet, placing several athletes in the top positions.
Chris Hall, head coach, noted, "We used the weekend to prepare for the UAA championships. The people that did compete performed well: we set three school records."
Most notable of these performances was that of fourth-year Adeoye Mabogunje, who improved on his own school record and national qualifying position in the triple jump, placing third with a distance of 14.82 meters. He also placed eighth in the long jump competition with a distance of 6.75 meters.
Mabogunje now stand first among all Division III athletes in the triple jump.
Second-year Jessica Winter also looked very sharp with her school- record time of 2:16.27 in the 800-meter run. She placed fourth in the meet and barely missed the NCAA DIII provisional qualifying standard of 2:15.90.
Both Mabogunje and Winter will go into UAA Championships heavily favored to win their respective events.
Fourth-year Patrick Sullivan, easily the best middle distance runner in the UAA, will be favored as well. He placed fifth at the meet in the 800-meter run with an impressive time of 1:55.18. Sullivan will compete in both the 1500-meter run, which he should win easily, and the 5K, where he should place second to fourth-year teammate Tom Haxton, at UAAs.
As for Haxton, who did not race the Redbird Classic, he is favored to repeat as both 5K and 10K champion for the Maroons and should be the team's top point earner.
Another school record fell over the weekend, this one beat by a team of all first-years. The women's 4x100 team of Melissa Lopez, Betsy England, Nellie Movtchan, and Andrea Keliiholokai now hold the new best time of 50.38.
Third-year Brian Eichhorn placed third in the pole vault competition, clearing a personal best height of 4.27 meters. Eichhorn currently stands fifth in the UAA in the event.
Second-year Nick Juravich placed second in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:16.82, while third-year Brandon Halcott was fourth in the 400-meter dash (50.77).
Fourth-year Babak Yousefian was fourth in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.59 seconds. Third-year Sam Jacobson ran well in the 1500-meters, with a personal best time of 4:10.23.
Despite these strong performances and personal best times, the focus of the meet was clearly one of anticipation for the coming competition. Several of the Maroons' top athletes chose not to compete at all, including Haxton; second-year Teague O'Connor; who stands second in the UAA in the 3000-meter steeplechase; and second-year Pat Hogan, who is fourth in the men's 10K.
Third-year Erin Steiner, who holds the best 10K time in the UAA, sat out on the women's side, but she should be among the top point earners for the Maroons at UAAs. Fourth-year Val Anderson also skipped the weekend's competition in order to rest. She holds the top position in the women's hammer toss and the second position in the shot put.
"The UAAs have come up so quickly on the outdoor season that it's hard to measure where we are versus the other teams in the conference," noted Hall. "Indoors, both teams finished third and our goals have to be to move up. The men are capable of finishing anywhere from third to firstEmory has to be considered the favorite."
"On the women's side I hope to see the team move to second. Washington University is out in front by a wide margin, and they would really have to falter for us to beat them. The women will battle with Emory and NYU for second."
Carnegie Mellon University will host the UAA Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beginning this Saturday morning.