SPORTS

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April 8, 2008

Women's track season preview at a glance

The Recap:

Continuing their winning tradition, the women’s squad raced ahead of a quick field to seize second at the 2007 Outdoor UAA Championships. The Maroons put up a fight against Wash U, accumulating 199.5 points and were shy of beating the Bears’ 221 for the gold. Dominating throughout the season, Chicago enjoyed wins in most of their meets during the regular season and later saw a number of athletes capture conference titles and national recognition. This was no small feat, given the number of important seniors the squad lost from the 2006 season. With the graduation of nationally ranked Jessica Winters in the 1,500-meter, the Maroons were forced to pick up the pace in other events to top 2006’s third-place UAA finish and nail a silver medal on the wall.

Strengths:

With a perfect balance of experienced veterans and talented rookies, Chicago’s roster is even stronger than it was in previous years. Returning Maroons will form the team’s core, most notably fourth-year Appie Hirve and second-year Claire Ray. Specializing in discus and shot put, Ray looks to win another UAA conference title after earning Rookie of the Year last season. Having recently received All-American accolades, Hirve is primed to finish her Chicago career with wins in both the triple jump and long jump. These are only two members of an incredibly diverse and deep roster that’s gunning to duplicate the wins of the indoor season.

Weaknesses:

Chicago’s competitiveness in distances is at a disadvantage after the graduation of NCAA-qualifying Abby Sheldon. Taking second in the event at last year’s UAAs, Sheldon was integral in closing the point gap between Chicago and the Bears. Despite this one loss, the Maroons have retained the majority of last year’s roster and, bolstered with new first-year talent, are putting their best foot forward.

Who to Watch: Appie Hirve

Earning All-American honors this winter, Hirve stands ready to dominate the conference and leap into further national recognition. This spring marks Hirve’s last season with the team, and she has been taking titles for most of her track and field career. Her leadership and triple jump abilities will be crucial if the team is upset by Wash U again in the conference championships.