The Maroons’ season ended somewhere in between a bang and a whimper. After qualifying for the NCAA DIII Championships as a team, Chicago placed 15th out of 32 teams this weekend at the competition in Terre Haute, IN. They accumulated a point total of 381 in the race, which featured a total of 277 runners.
Fourth-year Julia Sizek was the team’s top runner, finishing 31st, with a time of 21:54.6. The performance added to an impressive resume for Sizek, who was named an All-American in her final race.
“I am happy to be an All-American, but I am not particularly satisfied with my performance,” Sizek said. “I think that I made a mistake early in the race by going out too fast…I also felt terrible during the race, and I know that a lot of other people on our team felt that way as well.”
Individual results were not the only thing on the Maroons’ minds. Their team goal was to finish 10th, but they missed it by five slots.
“It was a very competitive field, being the national meet, so there was not a lot of distance between teams in the field, and thus, the difference between our goal and where we finished was not terribly great,” Sizek said.
The team’s top seven was comprised of Sizek, third-year Elise Wummer (22:52.1) at 115th, fourth-year Sarah Peluse (22:57.7) at 131st, first-year Catherine Young (22:58.8) at 135th, first-year Brianna Hickey (23:04.2) in a tie for 147th, and first-year Maggie Cornelius (23:13.9) at 169th. Third-year Michaela Whitelaw rounded out the Chicago pack at 200th with a time of 23:28.2.
Though the disappointment from the race will sting for a while, the South Siders took positives from the season as a whole.
“We raced a lot better than last year,” Peluse said.
“I would like to stand by our conference meet as a more accurate representation of our team successes. Prior to this year, we had not won conference for many, many years—[not] since 1994,” Sizek said.
The thrill of running at Nationals will stick in the runners’ minds, and, especially given the high quantity of first-years who ran and experienced the atmosphere, it should serve as a motivator.
“We have a really young team so I think after a year of racing we will better understand how to compete in collegiate athletics,” Hickey said. “I think we are hoping to just keep improving on our place in Nationals.”
“I think that the national meet is a fantastic event to be able to attend, and there is no better place to be alongside your teammates,” Sizek said. “For me, I think that I would not be able to run without a team at the National Meet, and that I would just fizzle out otherwise.”
Peluse, too, noted the feeling of racing at Nationals surrounded by teammates.
“It was fun knowing that we were one of the best ranked teams at the meet as opposed to last year when we were just happy to qualify,” she said. “It was also really great that a lot of people from the team who weren’t racing came to cheer. They were one of the loudest groups I heard during the race.”
For now, the season is over and the Maroons are left to contemplate how to keep improving for next season.
“Going forward, our team will be hungry to get back to nationals,” Wummer said.