With their professors in attendance, the Maroons were dedicated to making their last home meet count.
Fourth-year jumper Stephanie St. Clair and third-year middle distance runner Jessica Winter met provisional standards to qualify for the Division III National Indoor Track and Field Championships March 11 and 12 in Bloomington, Illinois. The two helped lead the women's team past six opponents to win the Chicago Duals. The men's team also blew their opponents out of Henry Crown, finishing first in a field of seven. Both squads defeated national powerhouse North Central College along with Hope College, Beloit, Wheaton, Elmhurst, and North Park.
St. Clair jumped 1.63 meters, exactly meeting the provisional standard to qualify. Her efforts also won the high jump for Chicago and set a new school record.
Thirty minutes later, Jessica Winter ran the mile in 5:04.14, beating the standard of 5:05.8. The third-year had been seeded 25 seconds ahead of the next runner, and beat her closest opponent by more than 21 seconds.
Winter's teammates made a special effort to cheer and encourage her during her race, providing her with a great deal of support.
"The team was great," she said. "There wasn't a quiet spot on the track. I was just excited to be able to show off when a lot of people were watching."
Turnout was unusually high, due to Professor's Day events. Faculty from all fields at the University came to observe their students and receive thanks in the form of refreshments and formal acknowledgement of their support.
On the men's side, six took first-place honors. In the mile, first-year distance runner Ryan McCarl (4:19.56) won the day, leading his teammates, second-year Brian Hague (4:19.66) and post-grad Jerome Tharaud (4:20.94), in a 1-2-3 sweep. Fellow distance runner second-year Dan Dickinson took top honors in the 5,000 meter with a time of 16:27.18. In the jumping events, third-year Brett Peterson took home the triple jump with a length of 12.15 meter, fourth-year Seyi Oyenuga took first place in the long jump with a 6.55 meter mark, and first-year Nick Guide dominated the high jump with a 1.87 meter leap.
The women's side also had a number of key contributors beyond St. Clair and Winter. Most notably, second-year Dilshanie Perera (10:48.7) and fourth-year Emily Kay (11:04.03) finished 2--3 in the 3,000 meter.
Both Maroons squads stand at 6-0 after this meet, and each made their way into the first national rankings of the season, announced Monday. The women's team is ranked fifth, and the men's team garnered twelfth-place standing.
This weekend, the Maroons head north for the Wisconsin-Whitewater Invitational. The meet features top-notch competition, including two ranked teams on each side. Both Augustana squads are ranked, as are the men's team from Wisconsin-LaCrosse and the women from Wisconsin-Oshkosh.