February 16, 2015

Team collects podium finish at Chicagoland Championships

In their only away meet of the month, the Maroons made a strong impression in Naperville this weekend while competing in the Chicagoland Indoor Championships.

Both the men and women finished close to the top, collecting third-place finishes. The men stood out among a field of 20 on Saturday, while the women held their own against 16 other squads on Friday.

One event in which the women shined was the 4x400m. They succeeded in breaking Chicago’s school record in the event, a feat that they accomplished at the very same meet one year ago. The team has the sixth best time posted this year and is the fifth-ranked school as UW–La Crosse holds both the best and second-best times of the season.

“This season our training has been focused differently, so we came into the meet with the only expectation of running our best and trying to win — not necessarily running a superb time,” said third-year Mikaela Hammel, who ran the first leg of the relay.

“I think what led to the strong result this weekend was just having the culmination of our training start to come together and this past weekend we got a peek at the fast times yet to come.”

Hammel has bounced around in this event this year, having run in every leg of the race except for the second leg so far this season. She explained her strategy this weekend leading off the race as opposed to the anchor leg, which is the concluding lap.

“With the first leg you can be a little more aggressive and risky. Your job is to run away from the competition and to have as fast a split as possible,” Hammel said. “Racing against another person becomes much more important. For instance, sometimes as anchor it is better to sit on a person and wait to kick, while as first leg one might be running more aggressively and pass.”

While no one took first for the Maroons on the men’s side, there were still enough impressive performances to warrant their third-place ranking overall in the meet.  Among them was the second place finish in the 60m dash by second-year sprinter Temisan Osowa.

“I think continued weeks of hard work and dedication in my training, especially weight room really helped me succeed. A little bit of pre-race visualization also contributed,” Osowa said.

Osowa also credited third-year Ben Clark with helping him work on his start, which in turn allowed him to cut down his time. Osowa finished second in this event the previous week, as well running a 7.12 compared to his 7.07 finish this past weekend.

“Our team really has all the tools necessary to succeed,” said Osowa on the team’s prospects heading down the stretch to UAAs in two weeks and Nationals just under a month away.

“[W]e just need to keep our bodies right and stay focused, and we should be able to perform much better than last year at conferences, and hopefully send many people to Nationals.”

The Maroons will compete at the Margaret Bradley Invitational next Saturday at 11:30 a.m. as their final tune-up before UAAs.