SPORTS

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January 29, 2010

Men's track nears full strength heading into Chicago Duals

Coming to a fieldhouse near you: the greatest mile run in Chicago track history.

Maybe not the greatest, but Chicago's stacked lineup for the mile run at this weekend’s Chicago Duals has second-year Moe Bahrani giddy.

“I want everybody to come watch this mile,” he said. “I want all of the University of Chicago to be there, because all the best athletes are going to be in the field.”

Three of the top ten mile runners in Chicago history will be in the race. Fourth-year Alex Garbier and third-year Harry Backlund, both top-five finishers in last year’s mile at the UAA, will be in the field. Second-year Brian Schlick and Brian Wille will also be competing for spots in the faster heat at UAAs, which should require times nearing 4:20. To top it off, Emil Bojanov, AB’07, the former Bulgarian national champion in the 1500, will make his return to Henry Crown, as an unattached participant, to help quicken the pace for Chicago’s runners.

Bahrani, he’s just along for the ride. He took the past couple of weeks of the season off to ready himself for next week’s UW–Whitewater Invitational, where he hopes to qualify for NCAAs in the 5000-meter run. He'll compete in tomorrow's mile, but this week is only a tune-up for him and several other Maroons making their return to competition.

He joins third-years Arthur Baptist, Andrew Wells-Qu, and Brian Andreycak, along with fourth-year Blake Obuchowski, in returning to the lineup. Getting the veteran runners back is an encouraging sign for a Maroons roster that has been hampered by injuries early on this indoor season.

Baptist will ease back into competition this weekend in the 3000-meter run, after a torn hamstring last spring slowed him during the cross country season.

“I’m excited. I got injured at about the end of the indoor season, so I haven’t really raced since then,” he said. “I feel like I’m in pretty good shape, so hopefully I’ll be able to pick up where I left off.”

While injuries have slowed the Maroons early, Baptist said that this weekend should provide a better picture of the team’s potential for success later this season. And, as the second of five home meets this year, the Duals will offer a familiar atmosphere for the many athletes looking to get back into the swing of competition.

“Especially for me [Henry Crown is] a really nice place to compete,” Baptist said, “mainly because the smaller environment means everyone is kind of packed into that upstairs area, and it really means everyone on the team is watching each other compete and cheering for each other.”

As for Bahrani, he sees those stands as an open invitation for the University community to come experience the best mile of all time.

“All the guys are lined up on the track like an inch away just screaming…. It’s so great running at home, having everybody in the stands,” he said. “It should be a really fun race to watch.”