April 26, 2005

Track puts on show in Show Me State

The Maroons refused to bend in the face of stiff wind and stiffer competition at the UAA Championships.

Men's and women's track and field battled the elements and the rest of the UAA at the conference meet last weekend in St. Louis. Despite the windiest conditions Chicago has competed under in the past four years, both squads competed ferociously. The women (158.5) were rewarded for their efforts with a strong second place behind Wash U (252), while the men (154) scored a painfully close third-place finish, just behind the Bears (188.5) and Carnegie Mellon (165).

The two teams opened things up Saturday with robust competition in the field events. On the women's side, a strong first-year contingent of Dana al-Meer, Myra Collins, Appie Hirve, and Cynthia Lin proved formidable in the sand pit and on the mats, with al-Meer taking first place in the pole vault (3.40m) and Collins doing the same in the long jump (5.38m). The trio of Collins, Hirve, and Lin dominated that event, taking first, second, and third place for the Maroons.

"Though all four of us were jumping about this well in high school, [jump coach] Nirav definitely has created the perfect environment for us all to excel individually, but compete as one big block," Hirve said.

On the men's squad, fourth-year Seyi Oyenuga kept busy, winning the high jump (1.86m) and finishing a centimeter out of second in the long jump. Second-year Leon Gordon proved to be a model of consistency, garnering third-place finishes in the hammer throw and shot put, while first-year Luke Sandberg added another third-place finish in the pole vault.

The women leapt into the second day of competition, as Hirve and Lin finished 2-3 in the triple jump, and Hirve and fourth-year Stephanie St. Clair tied for third place in the high jump. Third-year Katie Meinhover contributed a second-place finish in the javelin throw. On the track, third-year Jessica Winter finished second in the 1,500-meter run, as did second-years Jackie Kropp and Dilshanie Perera in the 800-meter run and 10,000-meter run. Both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay squads came home in third.

For the men, Oyenuga contributed another victory in the men's triple jump, as third-year Dan Milroy contributed to the cause with a second-place finish in the men's javelin. In running events, second-year Brian Hague added a top finish to the men's tally when he squeezed out a win in the 5,000-meter run, finishing five seconds ahead of Tartans fourth-year Ethan Coffey in 15:13.41. Other notable performances included third-year Pat Hogan's second place finish in the 10,000-meter run, second-year Emil Bojanov stealing third place in the 800-meter run, and graduate student Jerome Tharaud's third place finishes in the 3,000-meter steeple-chases and 5,000-meter run. The relay teams both grabbed second-place standing.

After two days of competition, 24 Maroons won All Conference honors. With awards in hand, the squads now set their sights on qualifying for the next level at the St. Joseph's Invite Saturday.

"We are now into the time of the year where we work on qualifying athletes to the NCAAs. We're simply trying to run times, jump, throw and vault distances and heights that are lifetime best performances," Hall said. "We have a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks, hopefully wrapping up with a number of athletes in the NCAAs."