January 13, 2012

Opening against the champs

The Chicago women’s indoor track squad heads into its season opener at UW-Oshkosh this Saturday with a new emphasis on the team.

“A lot of people talk about track and field as an individual sport, but I don’t believe that to be true,” Head Coach Chris Hall said. “When our programs have gone after team goals before individual goals, we’ve been much better overall. I feel we lost that a little bit last year and now we’re getting it back.” The focus on the collective has spread to the athletes. There is a clear understanding that if the team is to have a successful year, they must work together. “In order to improve on last season, we need to work on being a team, which we have been working on, slowly and steadily. I think we’ll have a really good team this year if we work together,” third-year Julia Sizek, who will be running the mile on Saturday, said.

The Maroons start their season against a sturdy opponent in the form of last year’s national champions, UW-Oshkosh. Hall is confident, though, in his team’s ability and welcomes the dual meet as a good challenge. “We’re a relatively young team, but we have high expectations for the season,” Hall said. “This will be a wonderful test for us and it will be nice to go toe-to-toe with the national champions. It [will serve as] preparation for us later in the season and it is an opportunity to gain some confidence by competing well against them.” Along with the optimism and the commitment to the team, it seems a little apprehension is unavoidable as individual athletes will finally find out what shape they are in after a long break from competition. “I’m unsure as to how fast I am right now and the kind of shape I’m in. These concerns about fitness levels are shared by many people on the team at this point in the season,” Sizek said. “Of course, there’s only one way to determine how fit we are, and that is to run a race.” The meet gets under way at 2 p.m. on Saturday.