The South Siders ran with a younger, but not necessarily hipper, crowd this past weekend at the North Central Red and White Open. The race, a three-mile run in Naperville, IL, serves as a conclusion to the season for numerous runners who could not make their respective schools’ top seven groups. Thus, these runners will not compete in the regional meet next week. For the Maroons, it represented an excellent opportunity for younger, less experienced members of the team to get a chance to see what a season’s worth of work will give back.
“Many of the runners have been training since the beginning of July, and because the school year starts so late, it is hard to get in enough races that push us mentally and physically and reveal the outcome of many months of focused training,” said third-year Jacob Mullen. “The N.C. Open provides an excellent opportunity to extend the season and test fitness. With this goal in mind, we executed effectively, and our slower training groups had a lot of fun bringing their seasons to a close.”
The Maroons sent five men and five women to the race this past weekend, enough to technically be considered a full team in both the men’s and women’s final rankings. Mullen and Nick Aeppel, as third-years, were the most experienced and oldest runners the South Siders sent.
On the men’s side, three teams competed, and Chicago took third behind Wash U and Wheaton. Mullen led the way for the group with a 13th-place finish and a time of 15:51.95. First-year Jeremy Ferguson followed at 16:36.88 with second-year Yorkbell Jaramillo rounding out the top three for the Maroons with a time of 17:13.18.
“I felt the meet was a wonderful conclusion to my best season of training and competition,” Mullen said.
The women faced a larger field of over 50 runners and a total of five teams. Chicago came in fifth behind Wash U, Wheaton, North Central, and the Moody Bible Institute. First-year Vivian Tu and third-year Annie Marsden led the Maroons through the finish line with times of 19:17.07 and 19:18.27, respectively. First-year Emeline Posner came through next with a time of 19:39.84.
“The younger runners enjoyed the opportunity to race on varied terrain and in a field where they could maneuver and not overextend themselves in the early stages of the race,” Mullen said.
With the conclusion of this race, the season is officially over for most of the squad. This weekend, the Maroons will send their best to the Midwest Regional in an effort to qualify for the NCAA National Championship in two weeks.
“The top seven runners on each squad did not compete this week in order to focus on resting and priming their bodies for the most competitive and important meets of the season,” Mullen said. “[The rest of us] look forward to supporting our fellow teammates at regionals and Nationals.”
The Midwest Regional begins at 11 a.m. this Saturday in Rock Island, IL.