February 4, 2011

Maroons hoping to hit national marks at Whitewater

After an impressive showing at the Chicago Duals at Henry Crown Field House on Saturday, the track and field teams are gearing up for a weekend showdown at the UW–Whitewater Invitational. After the relatively easy duals, the Maroons look forward to stiff competition.

“It’s going to be tough, but at the same time, we’re all really excited to be able to showcase our talents against top-level competition,” says second-year thrower Melita Aquino. “We’re all working hard to make sure that we’re ready for this meet.”

“The meet itself will be as competitive a meet we are in outside of the NCAA championships,” head coach Chris Hall said. “It’s reasonable to predict national qualifying performances in every event and in many cases multiple qualifiers. We have to truly elevate against this competition.”

Second-year Henry Ginna, who competed in the winning distance medley relay team on Saturday, recognizes the unique opportunity that awaits participants at Whitewater.

“I think this is an extremely important event for both myself and the team, and I hope to have a big performance, at the very least establishing myself amongst a field of some of the best milers in the region,” Ginna said. “I am very focused on competing at a high level this Friday.”

Men compete at 4 p.m. on Friday while women compete on Saturday at noon. “There are some positive things about this: The coaching staff has the opportunity to fully focus on one group without trying to go back and forth between so many athletes on the same day,” Hall said.

Traveling to compete in an event featuring high-powered competition such as this one can motivate athletes and heighten expectations.

“I have no doubt everyone will show up mentally ready to compete,” says fourth-year sprinter Stephanie Omueti who won the 200-meter dash last Saturday, posting a time of 27.03 seconds. “Yes, we have a three-hour drive up to the meet, but it’s nothing we haven’t handled in the past.”

The Maroons hope that the experience of competing in high-pressure situations away from home will aid them on their road to the UAA and NCAA championships.

“The fact that we are traveling this weekend is nice because, while we love competing at Henry Crown, it is also positive to mix up your surroundings, competition, and facilities,” associate head coach Zebulon Sion said. “These experiences are beneficial later in the season when you travel for the big meets.”

Despite the recent weather conditions and cancelled classes, the Maroons are still prepared to elevate their performances, as Hall expects for this competition.

“This week has been anything but normal for us,” Sion said. “The team has been forced to do a lot of mental preparation and focus. Our hope is that everyone will feel rested and be ready to compete at a high level this weekend.”