January 24, 2012

Injuries limit Maroons in loss to Wash U, Illinois Wesleyan

Women’s track and field finished third in their triangular meet with Illinois Wesleyan and Wash U on Saturday. Results are often deceiving, however, and despite the loss, there was a lot for the Maroons to cheer about.

“Given we have such a young team, it was great for them to step up against a conference team and work on competing hard early in the season. We were being aggressive and taking risks in our races,” fourth-year Jaleesa Akuoko said.

The Maroons finished the meet with 77 points, behind Wash U and Illinois Wesleyan, who had 117 and 119 points, respectively. Once again the distance runners looked strong, with second-year Elise Wummer giving one of the team’s standout performances to finish second in the 3000-meter (10:32.20).

It wasn’t so much the times the Maroons ran or the distances they jumped that were positive, but the team’s overall mindset. Chicago showed exactly what they were missing two weekends ago against UW-Oshkosh, and exactly what head coach Chris Hall had called for leading into the meet: Some fight.

The triangular was about preparation and finding the competitive edge the team will need if they are going to challenge at the conference meet later in the season. And if the Maroons needed any help finding that competitive edge, facing up to Wash U was excellent assistance.

“There was a bit more edge than usual,” Akuoko said. “Not to the full effect of the conference meet, but, as a whole, we were more aware of our teammates while they were competing and we were sure to increase the noise when Wash U was nearby.”

Wash U may have had the better of their matchup on Saturday, but the Maroons knew going into the meet that they wouldn’t be at their strongest.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries on the team lately and we didn’t bring the full roster [that we needed] to be competitive against the full teams of Wash U and Illinois Wesleyan,” fourth-year Madison Allen said. “But, in the events we did compete in, we showed a big improvement over last week.”

So where does this leave the Maroons? At this stage in the season it’s still hard to tell, but these early-season meets are all preparation for the conference showdown in February, and it seems Chicago is beginning to find its feet. They’ll just be hoping that next time they face Wash U they’ll be applauding the score as well as the performance.