May 4, 2004

Track focuses on individual improvements

Both the men's and women's track and field teams finished fourth this Friday at the Red and White Invitational hosted by North Central College on a rainy and cold day in Naperville, Illinois.

After the UAA competition came to a close last weekend, the teams shifted their focus to improving personal times and getting ready for NCAA championship competition.

"Each year after the UAA championships, our goals change from team goals to individual accomplishments. It's good to see so many people continuing to compete as we are just getting into peak shape," head coach Chris Hall said. "For seniors it puts an exclamation point at the end of their collegiate experience and for the underclassmen it gives us a lot to build on toward the future."

Second-year Teage O'Connor ran the best race for the Maroons over the weekend, finishing sixth in the men's 5K in a time of 15:09.40-—the fifth best in school history and a new personal record by 53 seconds.

"I attribute my kicking race to all of the cross training I've been doing lately," O'Connor said. "I was down at McCormick the other day scoping out the Metra tracks. I hopped a fence and was climbing around the tracks and on a bridge when a police officer pulled up. The guy thinks I'm trying to blow up the bridge. Real nimble-like I start dashing back and forth trying to evade the copper, but he had a car and had no trouble bringing me to justice and driving me a mile away from where I was going. Needless to say it was too many extra miles I had to walk and too many fences I had to hop. But it all goes in the training bank. It really gives me that extra edge on my competitors."

First-year Dan Dickinson, who also ran in the 5K, placed seventeenth in a personal record time of 16:16.20.

Third-year Emily Kay had the most impressive showing for the women, finishing fourth in the women's 5K in a personal record time of 18:19.80, the fourth best time in school history.

"The race felt easy," Kay said. "Though I was by myself and it was raining, it felt encouraging having all my teammates cheering for me. Everyone kept telling me that I was running fast and their encouragement helped me toughen up during the last few laps."

Both O'Connor and Kay ran the race for their first time in the 2004 season and had to do so late at night in damp and chilly weather.

First-year thrower Neil Weijer also had an impressive meet, setting personal records in three events. He finished 3rd in the hammer throw (38.46 meters), 9th in the shot put (12.12 meters), and 10th in the discus (33.81 meters).

Third-year Brian Eichhorn came centimeters away from setting a new school record in the pole vault, clearing 4.40 meter to finish fourth. He now holds the second best performance in school history behind Dave Knaak, who set the record of 4.42 meters in 1972.

Fourth-year Patrick Sullivan finished fourth in the 1500 meters in 3:55.64 and was followed by first-year Emil Bojanov, seventh in 4:00.97. With that time Bojanov moves up to seventh in the school record books in that event. Sullivan currently holds the second best 1500-meter time in school history at 3:49.38.

Sam Jacobson, also running the 1500 meters, set a personal best with a time of 4:09.08 to finish fifteenth.

"I could have gone all the way," Jacobson said. "If it had not been for the ties and restraints that burden all of us I could have gone there; I would be there now."

Also competing in the distance events, first-year Marc Roualet finished 7th in the 800 meters in 1:59.68 and second-year Leo Mizuhara finished 11th in a personal best time of 2:03.44.

The men's and women's sprinters also had a number of highlights on the day.

Fourth-year Babak Yousefian led the way for the men, placing second in the 110 meter-high hurdles with a time of 15.37 seconds. Third-year Brandon Halcott placed third in the 100-meter dash in 11.65 seconds and was followed by third-year Seyi Oyenuga and first-year Josh Segal, the seventh- and eighth-place finishers with times of 11.84 and 11.87 seconds.

The men's 4-by-400 meter relay squad of Jacobson, second-year Nick Juravich, fourth-year Karl Striepe, and anchor O'Connor made an impressive showing with a time of 3:48, beating out the host squad from North Central College to claim sixth place.

North Central College won the meet on the men's side with 220 points. Wheaton College was second with 125, Marquette University third with 115, and Chicago fourth with 36.

Second-year Sarah Eldridge placed well for the women's team, finishing second in the high jump competition, clearing a height of 1.49 meters.

First-year Jackie Kropp and fourth-year Darcy Flora finished third and fifth, respectively, in the 1500 meters with times of 4:54.86 and 4:56.34.

Rounding out the solid performances by the first-years, Trina Ruhland and Nellie Movtchan finished fourth and fifth in the 200-meter dash with times of 27.00 and 27.10 seconds.

Marquette University won the women's meet with 189 points. North Central College was second with 143.5, Wheaton College was third with 136, and Chicago fourth with 38.5.

Entering the stretch run of the season, the track and field teams remain ready to compete and hope to continue putting up top times on the board.

"What was really fun to watch, though, was the continuing enthusiasm of our team," Hall said. "Everyone brought a lot of energy into the meet, and they appear excited about the possibilities of what lies ahead over the next few weeks."

A select group of the men's and women's team will compete again next weekend at the Butler Twilight Invitational in Indianapolis, Indiana.