Adapting to the ever-temperamental Chicago weather, the track and field teams packed up two days early last week to participate in the Wheaton Don Church Twilight Meet on Tuesday. Initially set for Thursday, thunderstorms forced the Maroons to compete ahead of schedule, and shorthanded at that, as the change in date presented conflicts for a number of athletes. Despite these unanticipated obstacles, both the men and women battled valiantly, enjoying a number of top finishes and two top-five team finishes overall, with the men coming in fourth and the women coming in second. Pleased with his athletes’ performances, Head Coach Chris Hall stated he felt the final results, while not fully indicative of the team’s high level performance, exhibited how well the team could compete despite the difficulty of critical absences.
Between the two teams, the Maroons captured seven event titles on Tuesday, in addition to a number of other top three finishes. Led by Laura Darcey, who secured a convincing victory in the Heptathlon, sweeping every event and outscoring the rest of the competition by nearly 500 points with 2,904, the women put forth a strong showing in their third outdoor meet of the year. Building off their previous meets, the women excelled in middle to long distance events, with fourth-year Nicole VacaGuzman taking first in the 800-meter, while Sarika Temme-Bapat captured second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Most impressively, however, the women dominated the 3,000-meter, with third-year Claire Brockway and second-years Abigail Shoemaker and Zoe Smith sweeping the top three spots in order.
The men also seized a number to victories to propel them to their fourth-place team finish, prevailing in multiple middle- and long-distance events. First-year Henry Myers took home first place in the 1,500-meter, with three other Chicago runners finishing in the top seven. Speaking about the meet later in the week, Myers said, “I think Tuesday was a breakthrough meet for most of the distance team, with almost everyone in the 1,500 improving.” As for his own performance, Myers remarked, “I’m trying to focus on winning races, and not worrying so much about time.” Keeping with the theme of winning races, second-year Jack Barbour captured first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, with first-year Valentin Figueira taking third. In field events, first-year John McCormick won first in the triple jump with 13.76 meters.
Both Myers and Coach Hall seemed happy with the strong performances on Tuesday, which marks the third and final meet before the team travels to Atlanta for the University Athletic Association (UAA) Outdoor Championships later this week. Discussing the upcoming competition, Myers said, “Right now we have a week and a half to prepare for UAAs, where hopefully we’ll make another jump in performance.” Also hoping for success at the UAA Championships, Coach Hall acknowledged the impact of scheduling setbacks on the outdoor season, comparing the Maroons’ somewhat abbreviated schedule to the more robust ones of some of their competitors. Despite the difficulties that have hindered the season so far, Hall expressed confidence going into Atlanta, stating that they’d been there before and done well. Myers, Darcey, and the rest of the Maroons will look to build off their performance last week and take home a pair of titles on April 27 and 28.