May 1, 2012

At UAAs, injuries keep Maroons in check

As the season came to its climax this past weekend, the Maroons placed fourth at the UAA Conference Championship. They scored a total of 95 points across all events, defeating Carnegie Mellon (62), NYU (45), and Brandeis (29), and finishing behind Emory (226.5), Wash U (201.5), and Case Western (157).

In a season plagued by injuries, the South Siders were unable to perform at their best.

“In a year where we lost a number of athletes to injury, we just were not in a position to place as high as we would normally,” head coach Chris Hall said.

Despite the injury setbacks, Chicago produced 11 All-UAA performers and eight top-three finishers across 21 events.

“Our team performed exceptionally well this weekend.  As I look through the results and where we were seeded, our team got better in everything we competed in,” Hall said.

First-year thrower Kelly Wood attributed the success of the team to the leadership of the upperclassmen and captains.

“Our captains and seniors really stepped up for this meet, their last conference meet. Not only did they perform really well, but they helped unify us as a team, which definitely contributed to the level of our competition and performance,” Wood said.

The women’s 4x800m relay team, consisting of third-years Elsbeth Grant and Kayla McDonald and second-years Elise Wummer and Michaela Whitelaw, placed first with a time of 9:25.00, finishing 12.75 seconds ahead of their nearest competitor, Wash U. The performance set a new track record at Carnegie Mellon’s Gesling Stadium, surpassing the previous mark by 2.31 seconds.

McDonald also placed third individually in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:13.63.

Third-year Julia Sizek placed second in the 5,000m with a time of 17:29.26, losing out to Wash U’s Lucy Cheadle by close to three seconds. Cheadle is currently ranked 12th in the nation.

Other strong finishes included fourth-years Sonia Khan, Madison Allen, and Jalessa Akuoko and first-year Reecie Dern—all four women finished third. Khan ran the 10,000m run in 37:09.25 while Akuoko finished the 400m in 58.72 seconds. In the triple jump, Allen jumped 11.11m. Dern also set a personal record in the discus with her throw of 39.11m.

In addition, the 4x400m relay team consisting of McDonald, Akuoko, Grant, and second-year Jennie Porter finished in third place with a time of 4:00.17. Other top-five finishes included third-year Jane Simpson who finished with a time of 37:55.07 in the 10,000m and fourth-year Ali Klooster who clocked an 11:39.52 in the 3,000m steeplechase.

“What’s really special about how our team performed at conference is how we all came together,” Wood said. “Team support is really important because sometimes track can feel like an individual sport, and I think that cheering each other on and showing up for events really amped up the team in general and helped us to perform as well as we did.”

The Maroons now look toward the future. There are still three more meets left before Nationals, including the Maroons’ very own Chicago Penultimate on May 12. These three meets provide more opportunities for individual members of the team to make a run at qualifying for the DIII National Championship that will take place next month in Claremont, California.

“[The UAA Conference Championship] was our last true ‘team’ competition of the season,” Hall said. “Now we focus on individual goals moving forward.”