March 6, 2014

Do or die: Individual qualification on the line at last chance meet

While most of the Maroons will use this week to rest and celebrate a UAA title, a few of Chicago’s best will take their talents to UW–Stevens Point or Carthage College this weekend in one final effort to qualify for nationals. The top 12 men and top 15 women in each individual event and the top 12 in relays qualify for the NCAA National Championship.

Currently, the Maroons can qualify in five events: the women’s 800-meter, women’s 4x400-meter, men’s pole vault, women’s mile, and women’s long jump. First-year Michelle Dobbs holds the ninth spot in the 800-meter with her time of 2:12.74. The women’s 4x400-meter is in seventh with their time of 3:53.46. Second-year Michael Bennett ranks fourth in the nation in the pole vault with 4.9m. Second-year Brianna Hickey is 14th in the mile with 4:58.43. And third-year Pam Yu holds the 12th spot in the long jump with 5.56m.

Of these five, only Bennett has a realistically safe hold on his spot. Dobbs should also be fine because at least six different people would have to improve their time by one to two seconds to knock her out.

The 4x400-meter will consist of Dobbs, second-years Mikaela Hammel and Alison Pildner, and third-year Francesca Tomasi, and should be OK, as Dobbs adds additional speed to the group. Hickey might be in danger of being knocked out, as there are two runners outside of qualifying position who have times of only roughly a second behind her.

Yu has five centimeters to spare in her current position and is also in peril of losing her spot. In all, four of the five—if not all five—should make it to nationals, though that won’t stop them from trying to improve on their current marks.

“We are looking to run a good time and get out the kinks for nationals,” Pildner said.

In addition to these four, a few other South Siders with outside shots of qualifying will compete this weekend.

Second-year Nick Lyon currently ranks 43rd in the pole vault but will need to improve by upwards of 23cm if he is to meet the current qualifying mark. Second-year Michael Frasco, who is 35th in the mile, will also qualify if he can shave about three seconds off his time of 4:12.46.

First-year Nick Nielsen will join Frasco in trying to qualify in the mile, though he will need to cut down his 50th-ranked time of 4:14.16 by roughly five seconds. Second-year Rachael Jackson ranks 32nd in the long jump, and will qualify if she can increase her 5.41m leap by about 15cm.

While the odds might not be in its favor, this group of hopefuls will definitely be able to use this weekend as an opportunity to vault itself into the upcoming outdoor season.

“My goal for this weekend is to try to qualify for nationals,” Lyon said. “I am super hopeful. But if that doesn’t happen, I just want to P.R. and have the biggest jump of my season.”

The Maroons have had a successful season as a team. Now it is the time for them to run and jump for themselves and see where their talents take them.