[img id="78180" align="alignleft"]
The Maroons started off the outdoor track-and-field season on the right foot on Saturday as the women’s and men’s teams placed first and second respectively at the Ted Haydon Invitational, in honor of the track’s namesake and former U.S. Olympic Assistant Coach.
In both cases Chicago’s strongest competition came from the UW–Whitewater. The women defeated the Warhawks handily, with the final score standing at 270.50–170.50 after 20 events had been scored, while Chicago’s men fell to Whitewater by a final score of 310–228.
Despite finishing as runners up the men put forth a solid performance, as six different Maroons took top honors in their individual events. Third-years Harry Backlund and Nick Nunez placed first in the 1,500-meter run and steeplechase respectively, while first-year Chris Cheng prevailed in the 800-meter run.
The sole victory in a field event came from Drew Jackson, whose triple jump of 13.87 meters helped him claim first place over fellow Maroon third-year Jacob Solus.
“I feel pretty good about my performance in the triple jump,” Jackson said. “Going into the meet my legs were really sore so I didn’t know how I was going to perform, but it was a good start for the outdoor season.”
In short distances, fourth-year Bill Cheng took first spot in the 100-meter dash while third-year Brian Andreycak did the same in the 110-meter hurdles. The Maroons will look to build off of these individual performances in the following weeks, with their eyes set on the conference competition which will be held at Wash U in three weeks time.
“This was a solid warm-up meet,” Andreycak said. “While Whitewater is one of the better teams in the country, the rest of the field was pretty weak. With the next two meets looking to be very competitive,
it was good for everyone to get a race or two under their belt.”
Chicago will look to take full advantage of the next two meets, the Chicagolands and the Wheaton Invitational, since they are are the only competitive meets remaining before the Maroons head out to participate in the UAA championships.
“My goals for the outdoor season are for our team to win a conference championship, and for me
to make nationals,” Jackson said. “It is important for us to return to top form quickly with our
conference meet coming up in only a month.”
“We’re still working out a number of injury problems,”Andreycak added. “We’re looking to see where everyone is going to fit as we prepare for the conference meet on April 24.”
For the women’s team, eight individual Maroons as well as the 4x100 relay team won their events. On the track, third-year Stephanie Omueti and second-year Jalessa Akuoko earned top points for Chicago in the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. First-year Kayla McDonald also took home top honors in the 800-meter run, and third-year Erin Cary did the same in the steeplechase.
In field events, Chicago’s women throwers, fresh off of their recent participation in the indoor National Championships, continued to demonstrate the dominant form they showed last season. Fourth-years Claire Ray and Nicole Murphy; and third-year Kristin Constantine, earned the first three spots in shot put respectively, with Ray and Murphy both posting provisional national-qualifying performances in the process. Ray also placed first in the discus throw as well as the hammer throw, in which she also achieved provisional NCAA qualification and set a new Haydon track record in the process.
The Maroons will continue their outdoor season this weekend when they host the Chicagolands. The women will be competing on Friday beginning at 12:45 while the men’s events begin Saturday at noon.