SPORTS

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April 17, 2009

As teams travel to Eagle Invite, thoughts will be on preparing for UAA meet

Despite the season having started only two weeks ago, the track and field teams are already feeling the pressure to produce peak performances with the UAA Championship meet looming on the horizon just one week away.In the meantime, however, the focus is on Saturday’s Eagle Invitational hosted by Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. Athletes from 23 teams are set to compete at the meet, providing the Maroons a robust field to test their mettle in their first meet away from the friendly confines of Stagg Field and the Ted Haydon Track.The team will look to maintain the good vibes of strong performances in their first two meets. The women’s team captured first place in both the Ted Haydon Invitational and the Chicagoland Championships, while the men also were victorious in the first meet but finished a respectable second to 11th-ranked North Central at Chicagolands.Despite their early season successes, the team is aware that they have more work to do to reach their goals.“Four years ago, we would have dominated the UAA with the type of performances that we are now posting, but the standards are now much higher and our performances now only put us in the running for a UAA title,” fourth-year sprinter Herman Reeves said.With the all-important UAA Championships approaching, the Eagle Invitational presents an important opportunity for the athletes to refine their skills so that they can reach their potentials. This is especially true of the relay events where poor teamwork can undo even the most gifted athletes. Reeves spoke of the mind set of the men’s 4x100 meter team.“It’s just important that we remain focused and confident and that we are able to get the baton around the track as smoothly as possible,” he said. “Once we’re able to put this part together, I think the time will come.”The 4x100 team aims to improve upon last week’s finals clocking of 42.59, which is almost a full second off the blistering best of last year’s team in the same event. Another Maroon looking to impress is third-year jumper Terrence Robertson. Robertson’s long jump victory was the team’s only first-place finish at the highly competitive Chicagolands meet, and he will attempt to continue a perfect season in the event, having also triumphed at the Haydon Invitational.On the women’s team, the dynamic throwing duo of third-years Claire Ray and Nicole Murphy will once again lead the charge to the podium. Ray’s dominant performance at Chicagolands earned her a second consecutive UAA Athlete of the Week award. She won the hammer throw and discus throw, but was prevented from capturing three wins by Murphy, who edged her out narrowly to win the shot put. Not to be forgotten are fourth-year Rachel Venezia and second-year Stephanie Omueti, who earned top honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 100-meter dash, respectively.While the Maroons will assuredly give their all on the track at Benedictine, there is a definite sense that they would gladly take small gains this weekend and save their biggest and best performances for their assault on the UAA Championship. To that end, the focus in training has been on leaving something in the tank for next week. “This week we are transitioning our workouts into a more implosive and less grueling regime,” Reeves said.While Chicago’s ultimate focus may not be on the Eagle Invitational, the team expects to turn in a high-quality performance at the Invite as a prelude to UAAs next week.