For their final meet of the season, excluding the NCAAs, Chicago track is competing in a two-day meet in Naperville, IL that starts today. The North Central Last Chance meet will close out the season for the Maroons as a team. “This is our last meet as a ‘full’ squad,” third-year sprinter Stephanie Omueti said.
The Last Chance meet will be an opportunity for athletes to break records and set personal bests, but it will also be a time to say goodbye to the fourth-years on the team. “It’s going to be extremely emotional close to the meet. It’s always been tough to say goodbye to the graduating seniors before, but there are so many of us this year who have given it our all for the past four years. I would count on there being more than a couple tears shed,” fourth-year hurdler Brian Andreycak said.
Many of the personal goals for the Maroons are to break records or hit new personal bests. “I want to run sub-1:50 for the 800 and sub-49 in the 4x400, where I run the second leg. But mostly, I’m hoping to compete hard in a competitive field with several other national qualifiers,” fourth-year, middle distance runner Andrew Wells-Qu said.
Those who have qualified for nationals and will likely be running in the NCAAs are competing today and tomorrow. “We want to stay in a competitive mindset and the competition level is at such a high standard this weekend that it will help to simulate the NCAAs,” head coach Chris Hall said.
For some athletes even a small improvement at this meet could assure them a place at nationals. “As of last weekend, my time in the 110 hurdles of 14:71 seconds could still be good enough to get into nationals. However, if I could improve on that by even a few hundredths of a second, my place in the national meet would be assured,” Andrycak said.
For those who won’t be qualifying for nationals, this meet is still important for setting personal bests and validating the work of the season. “We want to finish the season on a really positive note. Goals are for people to set new personal records, to compete better than they ever have before in their lives,” Hall said.
While this meet is likely to lead to faster times and exciting results, parting ways with the fourth-years on the team will give it special significance for Chicago. “On a sad note, this will be the last time watching many of my fellow senior throwers who are graduating this year as well as watching my two remarkable senior role models, Kristen Constantine and Stephanie Omueti, but hopefully, I will be able to learn one last piece of advice while watching their final performances as a UChicago athlete,” first-year thrower Omoluyi Adesanya said.
The time spent as student-athletes at the University of Chicago has been formative for many members of the track and field team. “I’ve spent time with people I’ll remember the rest of my life, people whose character I hope has rubbed off onto me; and I’ve tasted pain and pride like I’ll never taste again,” Wells-Qu said.
“All of our national qualifiers so far have been seniors, so we’ll hopefully get one more week with a small group, but that’s only a small fraction of our senior class,” Andreycak said.
Today, the men’s and women’s hammer throw, discus throw, pole vault, 5k, and 10k will be held. The rest of the events will be held tomorrow beginning at 4 p.m. “I started off my track career here with speed, but being that I have had a less than great season, I am finishing off my senior year with my heart: Start with speed, but always finish with your heart, and I believe I have,” Omueti said.