Let's do a little exercise. By show of hands, how many of you have ever been to a track meet?
For the one person who just raised their hand in class while reading this and was called on by their professor, I apologize. But you probably should have been paying attention anyway instead of reading some more of my pointless banter.
For the rest of you who didn't raise your hands, you're in luck. The Marquette track and field team is hosting the 2009 Marquette Twilight Meet this Saturday at the Melvin "Bus" Shimek Track & Field Facility (read: Valley Fields).
Home track meets are relatively rare at Marquette. Last spring was the first time in six years the team has even been able to put on the event. One year the track was under construction, and another year it snowed. It's hard to run on ice and hurdle construction cones, so the meets were cancelled.
This year the Golden Eagles added the UWM vs. MU dual, but it took place on April 10 and most of us had already left for Easter break.
But with the track in great condition, no breaks scheduled and the Saturday temperature predicted to be in the mid-70s according to weather.com (there is a chance of isolated thunderstorms, however), I see little reason why those of you who didn't raise your hand earlier shouldn't be down at the Valley.
Need further convincing?
The Golden Eagles have 13 men and 16 women who have qualified for the Big East Championships May 1.
"For the most part, everybody that should be qualified has," coach Bert Rogers said.
But there are six athletes who are very close to the qualifying marks who Rogers believes still have a good chances of reaching them this weekend. And with the Marquette Twilight meet being the last event before the Championships, this home meet carries extra weight.
The first athlete is sophomore Randey Fisher in the men's 400-meter. Fisher ran the 400 in 49.15 seconds at the Duke Invitational April 3, in Durham, N.C. The time still stands as Fisher's best of the season, as he has reverted slightly since April 3. But he is still just 0.11 seconds short of the 49.04 Big East qualifying mark.
Rogers said he plans to have sophomore Tyler O'Brien ‐ already qualified in the 100-meter and 200-meter ‐ run in the 400 to help push Fisher. Incidentally, O'Brien, who has only run the 400 once this season, is closer to the Big East qualifying mark than Fisher after turning in a 49.08 at the Georgia Relays.
Rogers also believes sophomore Nick Szczech has a good chance to qualify for the Championships in the 5K Saturday. Szczech has been battling injuries and hasn't competed all season, but he did qualify for the Championships last season.
On the women's side, senior Sharon Fritz's distance of 5.52 meters in the long jump is just short of the 5.60-meter qualifying mark. Freshman Stephanie Grant needs to shave just 0.96 seconds off her 400 time, while freshman Jenny Zahn needs to cut 1.94 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles to qualify.
"If it doesn't rain, and it's supposed to be warm and we have a nice day, they very well may make those," Rogers said.
So there you have it, six athletes who have a chance to succeed in their sport and six reasons to attend a sparsely attended event. That's more than I can think of to attend the men's soccer team's Wisconsin D1 State Cup that morning.