January 21, 2005

Records fall, hope rises as track team returns home

Despite titanic opposition, the Maroons continued their record-breaking trend at last weekend's Titan Relays track and field meet hosted by Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington, Illinois. The women's 4x800 m team—composed of Emily Kay, Jackie Kropp, Al Robertson, and Jessica Winter—smashed the old school mark, set in 2003.

Fourth-year captain Emily Kay, who ran on the 2003 record-setting team, laughingly said, "I'm just hoping that the record lasts this time! I'd like our names to be put on the record boards in Henry Crown." With a time of 9:37.41 the team beat both second place Southern Illinois (9:58.45) and the old record (9:55.60) by almost 20 seconds.

The women's strong performance in the relays earned Chicago 10 of its 58 points, as the team finished fourth of six and within six points of second-place Olivet. The men, supported by impressive first-year runs, finished fifth overall with 26 points in a field dominated by Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (178 points).

Two school records have fallen in two weeks, but Chicago track is more focused on improving personal times and the team as a whole. "School records are fun to break, but I still believe the personal records that people break are what make this squad get better each week."

This Saturday the Maroons host the Chicago Invitational at Henry Crown. Competitors include Chicago's distance medley relay team, which took first place last Saturday with a time of 10:34.50, and is looking to return to nationals this year on March 11 and 12 back in Bloomington, Illinois.

"[Despite graduating] our best two runners [Tom Haxton and Patrick Sulivan], we've still got some very driven and incredibly talented individuals, who, if they do everything right, will rise up to their potential and might just bring home some more All-American trophies," second-year Emil Bojanov said. This weekend the relay team is seeded second behind Augustana College.

Despite early season fatigue, the Maroons squad has still put together solid performances. Fourth-year pole vaulter Brian Eichhorn (4.27 meters last week), confessed that he has "been most impressed with the quick adaptation of the freshmen on the men's side."

While the first-years have stepped up quickly, having returning runner post-graduate Jerome Tharaud healthy has the team comfortable with its long-distance events. "It's great having him back," said Eichhorn of Tharaud, who ran on the 2002 conference championship team and led this year's dominant cross country squad. This weekend Tharaud competes in the 3000-meter race, seeded second.

Last weekend's phenomenal showings by fourth-year Stephanie St. Clare in the high jump (1.47 m) and second-years Dilshanie Perera and Dan Dickinson in the 3000 meter (10:49.3 and 9:10.38, respectively) should be improved upon on Henry Crown's newly resurfaced track.

Field events including the pole vault, throws, and jumps start at 11:30 a.m. Running events, including everything from the 55-meter hurdles to the 5000-meter run, begin at noon. Saturday track and field's young squad attempt to show their athletic prowess against Augustana, St Joseph's, Elmhurst, Wesleyan, Valparaiso, and Chicago State.