SPORTS

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April 14, 2009

In stacked field, men and women rise to top

[img id="77590" align="alignleft"] The women rode Friday afternoon’s high winds to their second straight victory while the men settled for second place at this weekend’s Chicagoland Championships.

The Maroons invited some of the best teams from the area to Ted Haydon Track this weekend for the Chicagoland Championships. On Friday, the women beat out a field of 21 teams with a cumulative score of 150, topping second-place Lewis University, who totaled 94.

The men, facing tough competition from all three NCAA divisions, placed second, falling only to 11th-ranked North Central College. The sole event winner was third-year Terrence Robertson in the long jump.

“This weekend witnessed some fierce competition, and to end up in second place against Division-I schools makes me eager to know just how far our track and field athletes can go by the end of the season,” said second-year Andrew Wells-Qu, who placed second in the 800-meter dash and as the anchor of the 4x800 relay.

The women won five events on Friday, with second-year Stephanie Omueti winning the 100-meter dash and finishing second in the 200-meter dash, fourth-year Rachel Venezia winning the steeplechase, third-year Nicole Murphy winning the shot put, and third-year Claire Ray winning both the discus and hammer throw.

“I thought our women did an outstanding job this weekend,” Omueti said. “We have never won the Chicagoland Championships and to outright win it with no contest whilst hitting national standards just shows the depth of our team.”

The last few weeks have been characterized by relentless training for the track teams. In the hopes of coping with and succeeding in the short outdoor season, the track teams are forced to work especially hard during practice. While this regimen might be hurting the team’s performance at these early meets, the sweat that they are putting in now will hopefully pay dividends at the UAA Championships.

“I could see that some of our runners lacked that final burst of explosiveness because we have been training so hard,” Wells-Qu said. “I expect to feel a little fatigued in these initial meets because we are pushing our muscles to their limit without much recovery time. Though it takes away some of the springiness right now, our training will yield results by championship time with that spark in the final stretches of the race.”

The fast-paced season does not make any stops, even for injuries. Omueti has felt the pain of a strenuous workout schedule this year with leg injuries.

“Training has been a challenge due to shin splints,” Omueti said. “Coach [Chris] Hall pushes me when he can. If I can run workouts in faster times, then he gives me the go-ahead.”

Along with a demanding training schedule, the athletes are still acclimating to the outdoors. This weekend, the gusting wind added another challenge to the competition.

“The wind was not kind,” Wells-Qu said. “It had a terrific effect on the straightaway, blowing directly against my chest, and it certainly slowed the race by more than a second.”

In the high jump, Robertson was able to maneuver his jumps around the strongest drafts. In spite of the weather, Robertson was able to have a successful meet.

“I landed five legal jumps, all of which were lifetime personal records,” said Robertson. “It felt like a breakthrough meet, and it would be easy to float around in contentment, but I’m keeping focused and preparing for the conference championships, and hopefully NCAA nationals, a short distance down the road.”

The track and field teams will next set their sights on this weekend’s Benedictine Invite, where teams like UW–Whitewater and 28th-ranked men from Carroll will undoubtedly bring tough competition.