January 18, 2013

Bears, Titans form daunting field at Bloomington

After an impressive display against third-ranked UW­­–Oshkosh last Saturday, the Maroons will be traveling to Bloomington, IL this weekend to compete in the Illinois Wesleyan Triangular. There, the South Siders will encounter their conference rival Wash U along with host, Illinois Wesleyan.

The men, currently ranked 56th in the nation, will enter the meet as favorites. Wash U and Illinois Wesleyan rank 117th and 107th respectively. On the women’s side, Illinois Wesleyan is the team to beat. The Titans are ranked fifth in the nation, followed by Wash U at eighth and Chicago in 53rd. However, the national rankings place heavy weight on individual national competitors and not overall team performance, and thus are not always a strong indicator of the outcomes of meets.

At the same meet last year, the Maroons placed a distant third behind the Bears and Titans. However, with some of the first-years, such as Ben Clark and Rachel Jackson, performing well last week against Oshkosh and some returns from injury, the Maroons could compete strongly this weekend.

“We trust our coach and our program, and we push each other. As long as we’re healthy, we’ll be fine,” Clark said.

Clark won the 200-meter dash last week with a time of 22.92s, beating fourth-year Dee Brizzolara by two-tenths of a second. However, Brizzolara had just returned from an injury two days before.

“We’ve had Dee for two days,” Clark said. ”He’ll get me next time.”

Last week, both the Bears and Titans competed in the Terre Haute Double Dual, hosted at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Wash U finished second on both the men’s and women’s sides, while Illinois Wesleyan’s men came in third and their women won the meet.

“The great thing about track is that we don’t worry about other teams,” Clark said. ”I couldn’t care less who Wash U has or Emory or anyone else. Coach gives us the opportunity to get better every day at practice.”

The Maroons recognize the importance of this meet as a true start to the regular season. But they also recognize that this meet is on the schedule to help the team improve for the conference and, possibly, national meets.

“It’s the beginning of the season,” Jackson said. “This is a good starting point to see where we need to improve and fix our known errors. It will be challenging, but that’s the reason why I do track and field: to challenge myself, mentally and physically, and to exceed the expectations of others.”

Jackson was another first-year standout from last week, placing third in the long jump (5.00m) and fourth in the 55-meter dash (7.80s).

“We were a unit that got most of the job done,” Jackson said. “But I know that we can do so much better.”

“You can’t appreciate the work you’ve done until you compete and get a result. Now that we’re more comfortable, we can start to pick it up,” Clark said.

The Maroons plan to start picking it up this Saturday at 11 a.m. in Bloomington.