March 1, 2011

South Siders take second and third at UAAs

20 Maroon athletes earned all-UAA accolades at the UAA track and field championships this weekend, including several NCAA provisionally-qualifying performances. The men placed second with 100 points to Wash U’s 161, while the women finished third with 99.5 points behind Wash U’s 109.5 and Emory’s 119.5.

“I thought we competed well, as scoring 100 points usually wins meets. To win, we needed Wash U to stumble a bit, and even though we were solid throughout the weekend, they were consistent and didn’t give us a lot of room to close the gap,” said fourth-year Arthur Baptist.

The Maroon men finished second on Saturday, bolstered by first-year Zihan Xu as the runner-up in the long jump (6.65 m) and second-year Billy Whitmore’s 14:53.89 third-place race in the 5,000 meter run. Sunday’s events boasted six all-UAA finishes, two individual wins and one winning relay team.

Baptist won the 3,000 meter run with a time of 8:42.67, one of two Maroons to take first place in an individual event. “My race was one of the best athletic moments of my life. To have all my friends and teammates packed around the track cheering at the top of their lungs was just awesome, and to be able to win a conference championship in my last race at Henry Crown was really special. With two laps to go, I passed third place and saw that the NYU runner was within striking distance, about 20 meters ahead. Going into the last lap, I thought I might be able to get him, and it wasn’t until the very last straightaway as I passed him that I knew I had won,” Baptist said.

The other individual winner was second-year Dee Brizzolara, who not only clocked a time of 6.66 seconds to win the 55-meter dash, but also finished off the Maroons’ championship run in the 1,600 meter relay (3:25.22). First-year Jackson Jenkins and fourth-years Andrew Wells-Qu and Toby Blattler ran the first three legs.

“I think any of the team’s disappointment is overshadowed by the pride and happiness that came with watching some of our teammates turn in amazing performances,” Blattler said.

Wells-Qu also earned all-UAA recognition with his second-place time of 1:56.27 in the 800 meter. Fellow fourth-year Brian Andreycak’s second-place run in the 55 meter hurdles not only earned UAA attention, but also completed a NCAA provisionally-qualifying time of 7.69 seconds and broke his own school record.

The women led the field on Saturday, with eight athletes earning All-UAA accolades. Fourth-year Kristin Constantine won the weight throw event with a NCAA provisionally-qualifying 17.69m. Third-year Madison Allen and fourth-year Dipti Karmarkar finished second (5.28m) and third (5.26m) respectively in the long jump, and fourth-year Moriah Grooms leapt over 3.40m to claim second place in the pole vault event.

The first-year foursome of Jennifer Porter, Micaela Whitelaw, Stephanie Twellmeyer, and Elise Wummer closed out the day with a third-place time of 12.31.18 in the distance medley.

Sunday’s All-UAA individual athletes included second-year Julia Sizek in the 3,000 meter (10:16.33); Constantine, who threw another NCAA provisionally-qualifying throw of 13.11m to win the shot put; and fourth-year Liz Lawton, who won the 3,000 meter in 10:01.18.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to the cheering section. The atmosphere at Henry Crown was incredible, and I don’t think I would have had a kick if it were not for the constant encouragement from my teammates,” said Sizek. “I am consistently amazed by how supportive everyone is, and I think we all celebrated the successes of our teammates.”

Lawton had a strong lead over the field in the 5,000-meter before dropping out suddenly due to stomach illness.

“Personally, the weekend went nothing like how I expected it to go. I was on pace through 4000 meters but was feeling really ill throughout the race and basically spent the next two hours with my head in a trash can [throwing up]. It broke my heart to have that happen, but I had to come back the next day for the 3K, so I gave it my best shot. Considering the circumstances and that I lost half the things in my body less than 15 hours beforehand, I was satisfied with my race, but it gives me all the more desire to give everything in my power for the national meet in 11 days,” Lawton said.

The 1,600 meter relay squad composed of Porter, second-year Kayla McDonald, and fourth-years Ashley Eaves and Stephanie Omueti finished second in 4:01.22. Eaves also finished third in the 55-meter hurdles in 8.79 seconds.

“There is a common misconception that track and field is an individual sport, but last weekend’s performances on and off the track proved that it takes the support and heart of a team to establish great performances. No one competes alone in the meet; when one person competes in an event, the whole team is together right there with them,” McDonald said.

“Our men and women truly exemplified what it means to be a family, and that is the best success any sports program can achieve. And the season is nowhere near done. We still have nationals and outdoor is where a lot of glory is found and stories are made,” Lawton said.

“I think we did a lot of great things this weekend and established that we should be competing for the win at the outdoor conference meet in a couple of months,” said Baptist.

The Maroons race next at the North Central Last Chance meet in Naperville, IL on March 4.