February 1, 2011

Track and field rules Chicago Duals

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The hosting Maroons dominated the Chicago Duals track meet this past weekend, both squads going 9–0 in the uniquely scored meet. Though events featured athletes from all 10 competing schools the meet was scored as head-to-head competitions between each of the 10 teams.

“I really like it,” head coach Chris Hall said about the meet format. “I feel it really measures who the best team competing is, as far as depth in all events.

Chicagoland schools, both D-III and D-I, made the trip to Henry Crown Field House on Saturday, but the only squad to push the Maroons was UIC.

Chicago downed their cross-town adversary 83–72 and 98–55 on the women’s and men’s sides respectively. Hall was satisfied with the performance, but looks for improvement in the future. “We did not have a great day,” he said, “but the goal was accomplished as we won all the duals,” he said.

The women’s victory was highlighted by wins in eight events. In the sprints fourth-year veteran Stephanie Omueti clocked a 27.03 to win the 200-meter, while her classmate Ashley Eaves won the 400-meter in 1:00.19.

The women also were victorious in the 4x400-meter relay composed of third-year Kaitlin Swanson, first-year Jennifer Porter, fourth-year Margaret Bujarska, and Omueti (4:11.31). The Lady Maroons owned the distance events with duos of second-year Julia Sizek and third-year Rachel Ohman going 1–2 in the mile in 5:14 and 5:25, respectively, with fourth-year Erin Cary and first-year Kiko Wemmer taking the first two spots of the 5000-meter in 19:51 and 20:18. Third-year Sonia Khan kicked to victory in the 3000-meter (10:49), completing a sweep of the distance events.

The most impressive performances for the women came in the field events, where fourth-years Moriah Grooms-Garcia and Kristin Constantine won the pole vault and the weight throw respectively.

Grooms-Garcia’s vault of 3.40m set a new school pole vault record and Constantine’s heave was an impressive 16.47m, good enough to provisionally qualify her for the D-III national meet. Constantine is upholding the legacy of great Chicago throwing established by recently graduated All-American throwers Nicole Murphy and Claire Ray.

Though Murphy and Ray were key scorers for the Maroons last year, fourth-year captain Bianca Scott noted that a number of role players have stepped up to fill in the gaps.

“We’re stronger in a lot of other events where we were lacking before, particularly the 400-meter and 800-meter,” Scott said.

Despite having to rely on more new events for points than last year, the women are poised to defend their UAA title.

“UAAs will be quite different this year [without Ray and Murphy],” Scott stated. “But we will still come out on top.”

For the men triumphs came in the distance medley relay where the team of second-year Henry Ginna, first-year Ben Theo, first-year John Reece and second-year Bill Whitmore brought it home in 10:39.28.

In the 5000-meter, fourth-year Jim Mumford cruised to victory in 15:44. Another performance of note was second-year Demetrios Brizzolara’s runner-up time in the 200-meter. He finished the race in 22.90, just a hundredth of a second out of first. Distance veterans Andrew Well-Qu and Robert Cooper also went 2–3 in the mile run in 4:23 and 4:27.

Wells-Qu was awarded UAA athlete of the week for his nation-leading 800 clip last weekend of 1:53. “Chewy,” as he is known by his teammates, confirmed the Maroons’ mentality that the midseason invites serve as stepping-stones for the meaningful meets at the end of the season.

“It’s import to remember that track has a different focus than other sports,” Wells-Qu stated. “We’re not concerned with how well we do throughout the season, but only with how well we do at the end of the season.” Wells-Qu hopes to peak for the national championships in early March and garner All-American status.

Chicago hopes to ride their momentum into next weekend as they travel north to UW-Whitewater. The Maroons hope to continue their improvement at the pre-national invitational. The men will compete in the evening on Friday February 4th and the women the following day, on February 5th.