February 7, 2013

15 squads to assemble at Chicagolands

The Maroons will compete in the Chicagoland Championships this weekend, where they will face 17th-ranked North Central  just one week after Chicago’s women narrowly relegated the Cardinals to fourth place at the UW–Whitewater Invitational. Over 15 teams from around the Windy City will compete in the Championships.

At last year’s Chicagolands, the men placed seventh and the women placed fourth. Every team that finished ahead of the Maroons expects to return.

The meet will host teams from all three NCAA divisions. The Maroons, who have had some success against higher division schools in the past, are looking forward to the challenge.

“With so many different teams attending, we have an excellent opportunity to post some solid numbers,” fourth-year thrower Brandon Meckelberg said.

Meckelberg currently stands as the defending UAA champion in the discus. This year he has only competed in the weight throw, posting a season’s best distance of 13.96m last weekend.

On the women’s side, host North Central  will be looking to avenge last week’s upset loss to the Maroons. The defending Chicagolands champion, DII Lewis College, will also stand in the way of a top finish for the South Siders.

“We’ve been working really hard the last few weeks, so we just need to execute our training, and we should see big improvements,” second-year sprinter Meghan Derken said.

Derken has competed in three individual sprinting events this quarter (55m, 200m, and 400m) and has helped lead the women’s 4x400m relay team to the 26th-best mark in the nation this year (4:05.77).

The men will have to defeat strong DIII teams North Central and Carthage in addition to DI squads from UIC and Chicago State if they wish to place well this weekend. Carthage ranks just out of the top 25 at 27th.

“This weekend’s meet should provide some great competition,” Meckelberg said. “It will definitely help us tune up for the upcoming conference meet.”

As the Maroons compete this weekend, they will already have one eye on the UAA Championship, which now lies less than three weeks away.

At last year’s conference meet, the men finished fifth and the women third. The conference is expected to be very competitive once again, with all seven UAA teams having strong seasons up to this point. Wash U, who defeated the South Siders earlier this year, currently ranks sixth in the nation on the women’s side.

“We really want to place as well as we can in the conference,” Derken said. “Our goal is at least the top three.”

To make that top three, Chicago is going to have to maximize every opportunity for improvement it gets in the next two weeks, starting with tonight’s Championships.

“Last weekend, several of us performed very well, and many had lifetime bests,” Derken said. “Everyone is feeling pretty good about the rest of the season, and we are looking to continue to build on that.”

The Chicagolands will take place this Friday and Saturday at North Central’s Al B. Carius Track in Naperville, IL. The meet is expected to start at 5 p.m. on Friday and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.