January 13, 2012

Chicago confronts top-ranked Titans at Oshkosh

Courtesy of Dave Hilbert

Remember the Titans? No, not the football team. Remember the UW-Oshkosh men’s indoor track and field team, which finished fourth in the nation last year? You know, the 2009 co-National Champions? The Titans that are ranked third in DIII?

The Chicago men begin their 2012 season this Saturday in Osh-kosh, WI, in a dual meet against those formidable Titans from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Hopes are high for the Maroons; Head Coach Chris Hall’s squad is coming off a 2011 indoor season where the team finished second in the UAA conference.

“This is a great test for our guys,” Hall said, “and I am anxious to see how they respond to a high-powered team this early in the season.”

“They are one of the best teams in the country, which will naturally increase the intensity,” Laurie McElroy, the team’s new associate head coach, said. “It will be nice to see how the athletes respond and just to get an overall feel for where we are starting.”

Hall’s biggest concerns are about his team’s nerves and, compared to the Titans, its lack of depth in certain events. In regard to the former, however, Hall remains optimistic.

“My biggest concern is that our team doesn’t get intimidated,” Hall said. “We have a very good team and [athletes] that have shown they rise up in championship meets.”

Ultimately, Saturday’s race is a chance for the team to learn and improve—and, who knows, maybe turn that old Remember the Titans story on its head.

“I feel like this first meet won’t necessarily affect confidence,” first-year jumper Semi Ajibola said, “but it will definitely be a wake-up call and make us aware of our weaknesses, [as well as] what we need to change in order to reach the level we want to be competing at.”

For McElroy, in her first meet at Chicago after 10 years spent as an assistant coach at North Texas, it should be an interesting start to a new challenge. The meet begins at 2 p.m.

“I think that the University of Chicago is going to be a great fit for me,” McElroy said, “and I look forward to assisting Coach Hall and the program in their quest to win a National Championship.”