May 12, 2009

At Penultimate, teams chase PRs, postseason

This weekend, the University of Chicago hosted 10 schools—and one member of the Chicago Track Club—at the Chicago Penultimate Invite, the second-to-last chance for individuals to qualify for the national meet.

This meet comes after a two-week break from competition following the UAA Championships. The meet, which was not scored, served mainly as an opportunity for individuals to qualify for Nationals. Both teams had a few members that took advantage of one of the precious few chances to extend their seasons beyond next weekend and on to Nationals.

On the women’s side, the strongest showing came again from the field crew. Third-year Claire Ray and third-year Nicole Murphy each qualified in two events, with Ray hitting the provisional distance in the hammer throw and shot put and Murphy qualifying in the hammer throw and discus. Both Ray and Murphy have already earned their tickets to Nationals at previous meets.

Aside from these qualifying performances, the women had a few individuals who were able to beat out the competition. First-year Paige Peltzer won the high jump with a height of 1.57m, second-year Molly Peverada took first in the 5,000 meters (coming in at 18:21), and first-year Lauren Adler won the triple jump with a distance of 11.18m.

Aside from these performances, many on the team are feeling the tension mount as the season stretches on.

“There are a few people who were hoping to hit provisional or automatic qualifying marks for Nationals this past weekend that did not perform as well as they had hoped,” Peverada said. “As a result, they are probably feeling a lot of pressure coming into the last meet at North Central College. After this upcoming meet, that’s it—there are no more chances to qualify for Nationals, so the season will be over. I can’t imagine how my teammates on the cusp of competing at Nationals must feel right now.”

The men’s team had similar results. Second-year Harry Backlund in the 1500 meters and the 4x100 relay team won their events and notched up provisional qualifying performances. Backlund finished with a time of 3:54.2 and the 4x100 team’s time was 41.74. In addition, fourth-year Chris Peverada won the 10,000 meters.

“Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with my race. Given that I won, that may sound cocky, but I had a goal going in and even was on pace for it through about halfway, but it didn’t quite work out,” Chris Peverada said about the event. “I think a few other people had similar situations, where although they may have won a race or had what might otherwise have been considered a good performance, they fell short of personal records or times that might have solidified a place at the national meet.”

Now the teams are focused on selecting an event to specialize in and making sure all the finer aspects of form are taken care of.

“Nationals is mainly an individual event, so once our team competition was over, the atmosphere shifted,” Molly Peverada said. “People still work together, but everyone has a slightly different attitude because from here on, it’s mainly about the individual results.”

This track season is coming to an end but many of the athletes still have unfinished business.

“We’re down to one more meet where we can qualify for nationals, so people who are close to going are likely feeling a bit anxious,” Chris Peverada said. “Even for people not going to Nationals, this is the last chance of the season for a great performance, and for seniors it may be their last meet. So some people will just be focusing on a strong finish, rather than extending it.”

The teams will hit the road on Thursday and travel to North Central for the Gregory Invitational, more commonly referred to as “the last-chance meet.”