The DIII National Championship is here. For one Maroon, it has already come and gone. For another, it’s just about to begin.
Third-year Julia Sizek competed in the 10,000-meter last night, finishing 16th out of a field of 22 with a time of 37:53.90. After entering the competition ranked eighth in the event, Sizek was left disappointed by her performance.
“There are some days, you know, when you aren’t going to race well,” she said. “And in the 10k, when you realize 3k in [that] you’re going to race poor, it’s just not going to get better.
“It was just one of those days. Everyone has good days and everyone has really terrible days, and I just had a really bad day today. It stinks, but I’m happy I got out here. That’s pretty cool. I’ve never qualified as an individual before so I was pretty excited.”
It was a difficult introduction to individual competition at the national level for Sizek, but it will be a valuable experience as she looks to continue competing in the 10k; this was her first year running in the event.
“I think I probably will [run the 10k next year],” Sizek said. “A lot of the 10k runners are graduating this year. Also, I think that running the 10k earlier in the season would be better for Nationals than running it really late in the season. Everyone says that you run your best 10k when you’ve forgotten what the last 10k felt like. So I think if I can forget what the 10k feels like, then I could run better.”
Despite Sizek’s dissatisfaction with her own performance, she will now dust herself off and prepare to cheer on her teammate and fellow third-year Kayla McDonald, who will take to the track in the 800-meter tomorrow.
Unlike Sizek, McDonald was quite literally a last chance qualifier. At the North Central Last Chance meet one week ago, McDonald ran the 800-meter in 2:12.02 and left the meet ranked 24th in the nation. After three other runners withdrew from the event, McDonald was able to qualify as one of the country’s top 22. She now has the 21st best time out of the 22 runners who will take to the stripe beside her in Claremont. Carmen Graves of Roanoke holds the top rank with a mark of 2:07.32.
McDonald will compete in heat three, in which she is ranked seventh out of eight. She will be running from lane six tonight at 7:10 p.m. PST. The 800-meter final gets underway at 4:20 p.m. on Saturday.
“At some point I am going to have to break in with the rest of the runners. I plan to stay close to the front and hold on to whatever I can get. Hopefully I can get in the top two and see what happens from there,” McDonald said in regards to her strategy.
Realistically, it will be very difficult for McDonald to place in the top three. She has three of the top 10 runners in the nation in her heat and, if the current rankings prove to be an accurate guide, will need to cut at least two seconds off of her current time to qualify for the final. That in itself would be a great achievement for McDonald, but regardless of her eventual finish, her primary target should be a new personal best. If that takes her to the finals, it will be just another bonus.