May 17, 2005

No more qualify at Dr. Keeler, track down to Last Chance

With only a small part of the season left, the Maroons put forth a huge effort.

Track and field continued its crusade to qualify last week at the Dr. Keeler Invitational in Naperville, Illinois. With numerous competitors vying for spots at NCAAs, the men's and women's squads faced stiff competition in every event.

"It's always good to have great competition. While we didn't have a lot of NCAA qualifying performances I do think we grew as a result of the competition, head coach Chris Hall said. "This type of meet gives us a good idea of what to expect at the NCAAs and what it takes to qualify."

Top performances for the women's team included second-year Dilshanie Perera's third-place finish in the 10,000-meter run and sixth-place finishes for first-years Nofi Mojidi and Appie Hirve in the 200-meter dash and women's triple jump. Their more experienced teammates experienced similar success. Third-year Gabby Jones took eighth place in the women's long jump and third-year Jessica Winter and fourth-year Annie Yaniga took tenth place in the women's 800-meter run and javelin, respectively.

On the men's side, third-years Dan Milroy and Pat Hogan scored tenth place finishes in the men's javelin and the10,000-meter run.

Although the sheer number of competitors prevented the Maroons from placing higher, team members appreciated the extra runners for competitive purposes and for the company they provided.

"The field in the men's 10-K was pretty decent, not only because of the times people were running but also due to the fact that enough people were entered that it was never really lonely out on the track, something which can be particularly brutal to face in a long race," said Hogan.

With only one opportunity left to qualify for the NCAA Championships, the Maroons are focused on fine-tuning performances in hopes of scoring a coveted spot at nationals. When the Maroons roll back into Naperville on Friday for the North Central Last Chance meet, they will be ready for intense competition.

"We hope to qualify a few more people and to better the marks of qualifiers in a couple of spots," said Hall. "I look to our women's 4x100 relay team, Nofi Mojidi in the 200, Appie Hirve in the triple jump, Jerome Tharaud in the steeplechase and Emil Bojanov in the 1500 to either better or qualify to the NCAAs in their respective events."

The only Maroon guaranteed a spot at NCAAs is Winter, UAA Athlete of the Week for women's track and field for May 10th. Winter provisionally qualified at the Chicagolands Invivational on April 9th, coming in at 4:38.80, and then clinched her spot at the Butler Twilight Invitational on May 7th running a 4:35.26 1,500-meteric mile. With the fourth fastest Division III time in the nation Winter has a fighting chance at earning All-Amerian honors.

Provisionally qualified Maroons include first-year Myra Collins in the long jump, Mojidi in the 200-meter dash and Bojanov in the men's 1,500-meter run. Bojanov ran a phenomenal 1,500-meters at the Butler Twilight, placing 11th in the nation and garnering an opportunity to run at NCAAs. A less than stellar race at Dr, Keeler pushed him out of the top sixteen and out of the NCAA line-up. The North Central Last Chance meet is his final opportunity to shave of the 1.5 seconds that will put him back into competition at nationals in Waverly, Iowa.

"The last train for Iowa leaves Friday night," said Bojanov. "I'll do my best to be on it."