January 31, 2013

Whitewater field boasts four of nation’s top 25

The Maroons will travel to Whitewater, WI today to compete in the Leonard “Squig” Converse Invitational. Of the eight teams competing, four are ranked in the nation’s top 25 on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Chicago’s men will compete against the top four teams in the nation. UW–Oshkosh, UW–La Crosse, North Central (IL), and UW–Whitewater, ranked first through fourth in the nation, respectively, will most likely dominate the field. But the Maroons, ranked 52nd, hope to make an impact against the strong competition.

“Our main goal is to prove that we can be competitive with anyone,” said first-year sprinter Jake Romeo, who finished second in the 200-meter dash at the Chicago Duals last weekend. “We’ll be facing some of the top teams in the country this weekend, and although we’ve typically been left out of the national rankings, I think we really want to show that we belong in that discussion.”

The women face a slightly easier path to victory, though it will still be difficult. They face the same four teams as the men, but the women’s competitors rank lower overall. UW–Oshkosh ranks first, while the next highest ranked team, UW–Whitewater, is eighth.

Following close behind are North Central (IL) and UW–La Crosse, ranked 17th and 18th respectively. The Maroons sit at 49th in the nation.

“I expect this meet to be pretty competitive. Some historically strong DIII track programs will be there, including La Crosse– Wisconsin and North Central College,” said second-year thrower Reecie Dern, who placed third in the shot put and fifth in the weight throw last weekend. “However, I think our teams are looking good. I think we’re up for the challenge.”

The Maroons recognize that despite their best intentions, a top finish will most likely be out of their reach. But the squad does know that their match-ups against the cream of the DIII crop will serve them well as they head into championship season.

“Better competition will only help us improve,” Romeo said. “Running against some of the fastest athletes at our level will just allow us to push ourselves above and beyond our usual limits, so when we need to perform our absolute best at the conference meet, we will know exactly what to do.”

Only three meets, including the Converse Invitational, remain before the Maroons travel to Cleveland for the UAA championship. Every individual is looking to improve in any way possible.

“We’re at the time in our season where we are starting to gear up and really look to improve and compete every weekend, still driving towards conference,” Dern said.

“Individually it all comes down to our personal bests,” Romeo said. “If we can all improve each week, even little by little, it will eventually lead to great things for us as a team.”

The Maroons will compete both today and tomorrow in the Leonard “Squig” Converse Invitational. Action is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. tonight and 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.