As the indoor season gets into full swing, professors and students are set to gather together at the Maroons' home track meet, the Chicago Duals, this weekend.
Assistant head coach Mary Banker has organized the program's first annual Professors Day, hoping to reach out to a new crowd. Each athlete has invited one teacher to give thanks and recognize the faculty's continued support of Chicago athletics.
Banker and the teams have pulled out all the stops for Saturday, which will be the Maroons' last home meet and the beginning of the end of the indoor season. With only two other meetsthe UW-Whitewater Invitational and Chicagoland Championshipsbefore UAA championships February 25 to 26, the Maroons have quickly taken to chasing qualifying standards and bonding as a team.
At last Friday's Chicago Off Distance meet, also held at Henry Crown, five schools competed in atypical events. More important than anything else for the Maroons was the sight of teammates, more than ever, supporting each other.
Sprinters, jumpers, long-distance runners, and throwers switched their events up. The 4xPoor relay team, a 4x200 run by non-sprinters, may not have broken any school records, but it went a long way in building team spirit, something Banker and head coach Chris Hall have looked to promote in the traditionally individual sport. Teammates shouted "Whhooooshhhh!" as racers ran past in costume or with vaulting poles as batons.
As Chicago gathered together for the closing huddle, some members of the team realized that third-year Brett Peterson was still jumping. Hall led the whole team over to the jump pit so that they could clap and cheer for Brett as he finished second in the triple jump, only 0.02 meters behind Wheaton's Adam Smith.
The high enthusiasm only added to the performances. First-year Dana Al-Meer took first place in the pole vault, setting a new school record (3.02 m). Third-year Jessica Winter would have likely set a record in the 600-meter run with her time of 1:39.55, if there was one. She beat the next-best runner, Chicago second-year Al Robertson, by over 11 seconds.
First-year Ryan McCarl (9:46.87) won the 3200-meter run by more than 25 seconds.
The Chicago women swept the 1200-meter with second-year Jackie Kropp (3:48.30), fourth-year Emily Kay (3:52.46), and second-year Vidthya Abraham (3:57.08) taking the top three spots.
Second-year Marc Roualet (1:25.31) and fourth-year Dave Barr (1:25.47) worked together in the 600-meter race, ultimately finishing second and third.
First-year Appie Hirve (5.08m) and fourth-year Brian Eichhorn (6.05m) each added long-jump wins for their teams.
This Saturday, with their teachers cheering them on, men's and women's track hosts Wheaton, North Park, North Central, Beloit, and Hope in a much more conventional meet. The events start at 11:30 a.m.