April 3, 2009

Chicago optimistic heading outside

They had a short break from competition during finals week and spring break, but now men’s and women’s track and field are back to preparing for their outdoor season. That season begins at home this weekend, with the Ted Haydon Invitational, and because of the quarter system, the teams are “very much” behind the other teams in the conference, head coach Chris Hall said.While other teams have as many as three outdoor competitions under their belt, the Maroons have their first meet of the outdoor season this weekend. In addition, limited practices held during finals week and spring break coupled with Midwest weather in April have stood as obstacles to practicing outdoors.Hall, however, is optimistic. “I don’t think it’s a huge challenge,” he said, “but it means that we can’t take any weekends off.”Coming off a good finish to the indoor season, in which both the men’s and women’s teams placed third at UAAs, Hall has high hopes for both teams’ outdoor seasons.“After the men’s team came within three points of winning the indoor conference, their goal should be to win outdoor,” he said. “The women’s team should be in a position to advance one place,” he added. The meet marks the teams’ transition from the indoor to the outdoor season, and while the majority of the events are the same between the two seasons, there are some additions and changes. In outdoor track, for instance, athletes compete in the 100-meter (rather than 55-meter) dash, 110-meter (rather than 55-meter) high hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, 10,000-meters, and 3,000-meter steeple chase. Additionally, some of the field events are different. Outdoors, throwers can potentially compete in four events: the javelin, discus, hammer, and shot put. “I hope this weekend to get a better understanding of the outdoor events, and that our athletes have a positive experience getting on the outdoor track and walk away from the meet not only with good performances, but also with great learning experiences,” Hall said.While he hopes the meet will be a learning experience, Hall also predicts that it will put an early W on the Maroons’ record.“I’d be pretty surprised if any one [of the other teams] was competitive with us this weekend,” he said, “but there will be competitive athletes in all the events.”Ted Haydon, for whom the meet is named, worked as a track and field coach at the University for over 30 years, and served as an assistant coach for the Olympic team in 1968 and 1972.“I’m proud to name the meet after him,” Hall said.