With the conference championship rapidly approaching, Jerome Tharaud is trying to make his last chance last just a little bit longer.
The graduate middle-distance runner met the qualifying standard for the national championship meet and helped lead men's track and field to a sixth-place finish at the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawk Invitational Friday. First-year jumper Appie Hirve will be joining him, after her performance in the triple jump met the provisional standard and won her top honors Saturday. With her points in hand, the women's team pulled out a fifth-place finish.
Using his last year of eligibility while he begins work on a doctorate in English, Tharaud has been a major contributor for the Maroons this winter. His hard work will now be rewarded with a spot at nationals. The post-graduate won the men's 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:49.68, blowing out the competition and the Div. III provisional standard of 14:57.20.
By contrast, Hirve will make her first national championship appearance in her first collegiate season. Her 11.29-meter showing easily exceeded the qualifying standard of 11.18 meters.
"She met the standard on her last jump of the day. It's difficult to still find that type of energy late in a competition," said head coach Chris Hall.
The meet was the first on the road for the teams in four weeks.
"From a coaching standpoint I really like this format," said Hall. "It gives us an opportunity to really spend time and focus on the athletes without the distractions."
The increased attention paid off, with a number of notable performances from both teams.
Second-year Mike Doll's 8.42-second showing in the 55-meter hurdles earned him seventh place standing, and the women's 4x400 meter relay squad came in fourth behind Wartburg, Wisconsin-LaCrosse, and Wisconsin-Parkside with a time of 4:09.13.
From the distance squads, second-year Dilshanie Perera was undeterred by a competitor collapsing and blocking four lanes. Her time 18:25.11 was good enough for second place in the women's 5,000-meter run.
Both the men's and women's teams left their mark on the mile. Led by second-year Jackie Kropp (5:18.10), the women finished 3-5-6-8, and second-year Emil Bojanov led the men with a fifth place finish in 4:21.08.
This weekend's competition was stiff, featuring quality teams from Wartburg College, Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Wisconsin-Parkside, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Wisconsin-Whitewater. The coaching staff hopes the experience will help the Maroons at the league championship meet February 25 and 26.
"This was a great way to prep for the UAA meet," said Hall.
The Maroons will have one final chance to prepare today and tomorrow at the Chicagoland Championship, hosted by Lewis College.