February 19, 2015

Squad faces final hurdle in last regular season push

With the UAA Track and Field Championships looming in the near future, there is mounting pressure on the Maroons to make their final adjustments and fine-tune their skills in preparation for the last and most difficult stretch of the season.

For some, this may seem daunting, however, third-year sprinter Mikaela Hammel is hardly fazed. Rather, she says that the squad is all business in advance of what amounts to four months worth of physical training and mental preparation.

“Right about now, everyone gets more focused—winning the UAA title is the goal of our season. Practices get more intense, and people are intent on getting ahead on schoolwork so that they can dedicate all of their energy to this last week of training,” Hammel said.

The team’s days from now until the championships are not just a competitive lull filled with training; they also feature a home meet on Saturday—the Margaret Bradley Invitational. Rather than representing a late-season garbage time matchup, Hammel characterized the Saturday meet as a critical opportunity for her teammates, who are on the cusp of being selected to participate in the championship events.

“This Saturday is especially important for people who are on the bubble [as to] whether they may or may not go to the championships,” Hammel said. “Only 25 people from each team may participate, and only three per event. If the coach is on the fence about who to send [to the UAA], the times from this Saturday will factor in to the decision.”

She added that her coaches’ decisions are based on an aggregate of individuals’ competition times, which are stored through the Track and Field Results Reporting System (TFRRS), an online data service.

Still, Hammel said that the Saturday meet is a bit of a reprieve for the team.

“It’s going to be pretty easy; nobody is competing in multiple events, and it’s an opportunity to run short and fast before the championship,” she said.

In assessing both the men’s and women’s odds of pulling out a victory at UAAs, Hammel is cautiously optimistic, and stressed the importance of attention to detail in advance of the meet.

“Both [Chicago] teams will be in the hunt; for the women, it’s going to come down between us and Wash U. Until then, we want to stay healthy and take care of the little things,” she said.

The Margaret Bradley Invitational begins on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. It will be held at the Henry Crown Field House.