Starting tomorrow, the men’s and women’s track and field teams aren’t going to have much free time on their hands. After being idle last weekend, they’ll be back at Henry Crown tomorrow for the Chicago Duals, a meet that kicks off four straight weeks of competition for the Maroons.
As hosts of the Phoenix Invite two weeks ago, the women and men had solid outings, finishing first and second in their respective events, though both teams came away from that meet saying they still had plenty of work to do. And there is no doubt the Maroons have their work cut out for them this weekend, when they’ll be up against several D-I teams and one of the very best teams in DIII.
“I think this weekend will be our best test of the season,” second-year distance runner Arthur Baptist said. “I expect North Central on the D-III level to be tough, but I think our team is better balanced and D-I teams like DePaul, UIC, and Chicago State should all be very good as well.”
Chicago will be competing head-to-head against each of the other 10 teams this weekend because unlike standard meets, the duals format has squads competing for a win or a loss against every team present.
Normally the top few finishers in each event earn points for their school, and then the schools are ranked according to their point totals, yielding a final position in the field. But with the complicated scoring procedure used at this kind of meet, every possible pairing of schools is scored in each event as though they were competing only against each other.
At the end of the day, Chicago will have a total score for 10 different match ups—one for each of the other teams competing—and those scores will determine the numbers of wins and losses the Maroons end up with.
That format will let the Maroons know exactly how they compare to the visiting teams. Their results against North Central should be especially telling, since the Cardinals have been a perennial powerhouse in DIII, and they are usually deep with national-caliber athletes. Last season, North Central’s teams combined to send nine athletes to the NCAA indoor meet. Their men have also won eight consecutive indoor titles in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, the same conference that Augustana—the team that beat the Maroon men two weeks ago—competes in.
In the distance competition—not distance jumping or throwing, but total distance traveled—Cal State–Los Angeles will have won before the meet even begins. Their women’s team is making the trip to Chicago to compete in its second meet of the year. A couple weeks ago in their first meet, the Golden Eagles scored dual-meet victories over several large California schools, including USC.
That sort of stiff competition will give the Maroons an idea of how the preparations to defend their UAA championship are progressing. In the early going this season, Chicago’s teams have looked at least as strong as those that were so successful in 2008, and the Duals will be good indication of whether or not Chicago has the athletes to bring home another conference banner.
“Some of the top runners who have been struggling with injuries are almost completely healthy again and racing Saturday, so it’ll be exciting to see how much stronger they will make our team,” second-year distance runner Molly Peverada said. “Our team lost some top athletes, but many underclassmen, first-years included, are stepping it up and filling in the holes.”