May 24, 2011

Chicago sends five to NCAA Championships

The Maroons had a strong finish to their outdoor season on Friday at the Last Chance Meet in Naperville. This was the final meet of the season for most of the athletes, but five Maroons have qualified for Nationals and will keep competing this weekend at the Division III Championships in Ohio.

For the men’s team, second-year Billy Whitmore finished first in the 10000-meter run, and fourth-years Drew Jackson and Jacob Solus placed first and third, respectively, in the triple jump. Jackson and Solus, along with fellow fourth-years Andrew Wells-Qu (in the 800-meter run) and Brian Andreycak (in the 110-meter hurdles) will be competing at Nationals this weekend. Whitmore’s time of 30:48.63 was only five seconds off that of the last individual to make it into the National meet.

For the women’s team, Kristin Constantine, who was awarded the All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year award from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, was the lone event winner, finishing first in the shot put and the hammer throw. Constantine will compete alongside Jackson, Solus, Andreycak, and Wells-Qu at Nationals this weekend in the hammer throw and the shot put.

“The five of us who are going to Nationals all either improved our performances or came close,” said Andreycak.

“The athletes who did not qualify for the meet also had some excellent performances. Our seniors gave everything they had in their final races, which was special to watch. The underclassmen also had some great performances, which bodes well for next year for them. It was certainly a worthy finish to this season,ely proud to have been part of our men’s team.”

For Wells-Qu, now is the time to showcase the preparation he’s done in his four years at Chicago.

“Here, in the final week of my collegiate career, we’ve done all the training we can do, and now we’re just riding the peak,” said Wells-Qu. “In the end, it will just come down to who’s nastier. The athletes who triumph will be ones who can eat their own guts and ask for seconds. The athletes who triumph will be the ones who can chew lead and spit bullets. The athletes who win will be the ones who can breathe fire and laugh in the face of death.”

Wells-Qu finished second in the 800-meter run. Finishing eighth, but with a personal best of 1:53.51, less than a second away from the provisional mark, was second-year Henry Ginna.

Andreycak didn’t know yet if his performances over the course of the season had already qualified him for Nationals, but the uncertainty spurred him on to a fourth place finish in the 110-meter hurdles and an impressive time, to boot.

“Right up until the gun went off to start the race my heart was beating out of my chest. But I guess feeling like my career was in danger really worked for me,” said Andreycak. “I actually did not think I had run particularly well in my preliminary heat, so I was extremely concerned for a while after the race. As it turned out, I had a huge improvement, and after I found that out, I knew that I was into the national meet.”

For the five qualifiers, this week will offer only a brief rest before they head out to Nationals. The Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships will take place Thursday through Saturday at Ohio Wesleyan University.