April 27, 2010

Women's track claims second in down-to-the-wire finish

It all came down to the last event for women’s track and field at the UAA Championship last weekend in St. Louis. Battling both the weather and the fierce competition, Emory stole first place at the last second, finishing with just a two-point lead.

“This weekend was really defined by the weather,” third-year Liz Lawton explained. “The humidity was astounding for the 10Ks, wind and rain started to creep in all Saturday until there was a tornado during [women’s] javelin and the whole meet was ushered to the basement of the field house.”

“Sunday, there was driving rain and gale force winds,” Lawton continued.

This didn’t stop the women from grabbing the gold in several events. Fourth-year Claire Ray tossed aside all competitors in the shot put, discus, and hammer throw, while Lawton took first in the 10K with a time that provisionally qualifies her for Nationals.

All three Chicago relay teams earned All-UAA honors, including one in the final event, the 400-meter relay.

Other outstanding performances were put up by second-place finishers third-year Stephanie Omueti and first-year Kayla McDonald in the 100- and 400-meter dashes, respectively, and third-year Ashley Eaves, who took second in the 400- and third in the 100- meter hurdles.

“I PR-ed in both,” Eaves said, “but I really wanted to get first in the 400 [meter hurdles]. I’m still trying to go to Nationals.”

Third-year Lizzie Bright finished third in the 5K, while jumpers third-year Dipti Karmarkar and second-year Paige Peltzer posted third-place finishes in the triple and high jump, respectively.

“I think everyone competed really hard,” Eaves continued.

Going into the last event of the meet, Chicago and Emory were neck and neck. The whole team gathered around the 300-meter mark of the track to clap and cheer on the quartet of fourth-year Emma Finestone, Omueti, Karmarkar, and Eaves.

“It was great,” Eaves explained. “It’s super encouraging when people are there at the end of the track.”

Their strong second-place finish was bittersweet, though. Losing the championship by two points was rough, Lawton explains. “We all worked so hard, but the points didn’t line up correctly. Some girls from other teams withdrew from races, and there were definite swings of one or two points here and there.”

She acknowledges, however, that the vicissitudes of championship play are just part of the sport. What really matters, she adds, is that “we gave it our all and we performed our best, with regard to the weather and situations we were placed in.”

“This is the final leg of this long season,” Lawton continued. “We have to make every moment of training count and stay as healthy as possible. Hopefully we can end this season as the team we established ourselves to be at the indoor national championships.”

The Maroons continue their trek to Nationals this Friday at the Benedictine University Twilight Invitational in Lisle, Illinois.