With the UAA Championships over, the Maroons shift focus from the forest to the trees.
Chicago men's and women's track and field began the final phase of their seemingly ceaseless season at the St. Joseph's College Puma Classic Saturday. The women (168) lagged behind St. Joseph's (196) and beat out Olivet (73) and Indianapolis College (25), and the men (145) also finished in second place behind the home team (218). However, from here on in, the focus will be on each athlete's results.
Historically, the teams shift emphasis to individual performance late in the season.
"We are now more focused on times run or distances thrown, jumped, etc.," head coach Chris Hall said. "We are less concerned about place performances, which allows athletes to attempt some things they wouldn't otherwise be able to go after."
Second-year vaulter Trina Ruhland epitomized this phenomenon at St. Joseph's. Not a usual long jumper, Ruhland recorded a 5.14-meter mark in the event, finishing second behind teammate third-year Gabby Jones (5.29 meters).
"She jumped very well," Hall said. "She showed that she could be a national qualifier in that event."
Aside from Jones and Ruhland, second-year Nellie Movtchan (4.78 meters), fourth-year Caroline Swartz-Zern (4.45 meters) and first-year Abigail Mulligan (4.44 meters) also has strong days in the long jump pit, finishing 5-6-7.
While Ruhland and others expanded their repertoire, several Maroons excelled at their old stand-bys. First-year sprinter Nofi Mojidi was among them, winning the 400-meter dash in 59.79 seconds. Her classmate Dana Al-Meer did some damage of her own, setting a stadium record in the pole vault with a 3.20 meter mark.
The team's fourth-years are also continuing to step up as their collegiate careers wind down. Fourth-year sprinter Brandon Halcott won both the 100-meter (11.39) and 200-meter (23.17) dashes, and classmate Brian Eichhorn won both the pole vault and the javelin, jumping 4.27 meters and throwing for a 49.82-meter mark.
Joining them in the winner's circle was fourth-year middle distance runner the now mullet-less Emily Kay. Her shorter hair may have been the aerodynamic improvement she needed to take home the 3000-meter race with in 10:47.65.
Team members travel to the Butler Twilight Invitational in Indianapolis Saturday, the next in a series of qualifier meets in the run-up to the NCAA Division III Championships in Waverly, Iowa May 28.