May 15, 2012

Sizek’s national top-10 time the highlight of late-week contests

Women’s track and field competed in its last home meet of the season at the Chicago Penultimate Invitational this past Saturday.

While the UAA Conference Championship is the main team focus for the Maroons’ outdoor season, the Penultimate is an opportunity for athletes to explore new events and pursue stronger NCAA rankings individually. However, this new focus on the individual as opposed to team-wide achievements can mean different things for different athletes.

“I don’t think we had any spectacular performances [at Penultimate],” fourth-year distance runner and captain Sonia Khan said. “But it’s hard transitioning from emotionally-charged meets where you run for the team score to meets where you run for your own personal bests.”

However, some athletes took this individualized focus as an opportunity to reach—or recapture—PRs. First-year Kelly Wood and second-year Luyi Adesanya, for example, both threw lifetime bests in the hammer throw, earning fourth and fifth place with distances of 35.47m and 34m, respectively.

Adesanya’s performance, in fact, marked a return to a personal best she had struggled to maintain. “I reached my PR again, which is something I haven’t been able to do for two meets,” she said. “I was happy to be competing back to my original standing again.”

Thursday’s Keeler Invitational at North Central College was characterized by a similar combination of lackluster performances and notable personal bests.

While Khan failed to meet her expectations with a 14th-place finish (37:20.92) in the 10,000-meter, third-year Julia Sizek finished with a time of 36:04.08—a time not only worthy of a second-place finish at the meet, but also an eighth-place ranking in the nation. In addition to being a fantastic time, it was Sizek’s debut performance in the 10k race.

“I was definitely surprised that I ran a qualifying time,” Sizek said. “I’ve never thought of myself as a very fast runner, but I guess hard work pays off.”

Many of the athletes who competed at Thursday’s meet were rested on Saturday, but several members of Chicago’s usual lineup still went on to secure top rankings.

Top point earners included fourth-year Jalessa Akuoko with first- (1:01.18) and second-place (26.99) finishes in the 400-meter and 200-meter, third-year Kayla McDonald with a first-place finish in the 800-meter (2:14.21), and fourth-year high jumper Paige Peltzer with a second-place jump of 1.58m.

Fourth-years Ali Klooster and Maddie Allen secured second-place finishes in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (11:47.56) and triple jump (10.83m), respectively, and first-year Reecie Dern continued her streak as one of the top Maroon throwers, securing a third-place finish in the hammer throw (35.94m), and fourth-place in the discus throw (again throwing 35.94m).

The Maroons now look forward to next week’s North Central Last Chance as a final opportunity for some of their NCAA hopefuls to put in qualifying performances.