The smaller roster size of the track and field team may hamper the team in the overall standings by the end of this week’s national championships, but after the event’s first day on Thursday, the school was looking good against strong national competition.
After day one of nationals, hosted all weekend at the U of A Pavilion, the U of A sits in fourth place on the women’s side of the standings, just one point back of third place Windsor, and third place on the men’s side, itself only one point behind Ottawa. For men’s teams at CIS nationals, Windsor has run away with first place with 28 points, 19 more than Ottawa, while so far the Calgary and Toronto women are competing for first with 26 and 21 points respectively.
The U of A’s impressive positions have come about largely due to the efforts of its young 60 metre sprinters. The event brought three medals for the Bears and Pandas on day one, with sophomores Benjamin Williams and Leah Walkeden winning a men’s silver and women’s bronze respectively, while first-year Katrina Martin finished 0.09 seconds ahead of Walkeden to win a silver medal. Toronto’s Khamica Bingham from the U of T won gold with a time of 7.47 compared to Martin’s 7.51, while Windsor’s Aaron Bowman won gold for the men’s 60m sprint with a time of 6.73 compared to Williams’ 6.78.
“Everyone was at their best,” Bears and Pandas track and field coach Wes Moerman said. “Katrina Martin was great, a first-year athlete coming in to win a silver medal and set a new school record.
“We knew that Khamica was a very talented athlete, a very good athlete. There haven’t been too many surprises so far in the competition and it’s just getting going.”
These runners returned to the track later in the evening for the 4x200 metre relay heats where Walkeden and Martin along with fellow Panda runners Debbie Trang and Alexa Hrycun finished third, with times less than a second behind first place Western University and second place Toronto. While the men’s 4x200 relay team fell back to eighth place, almost four seconds behind first place Ottawa. The finals for these two events will be take place Saturday afternoon.
The only other U of A action on the first day of nationals was in women’s weight throw where Ciera Heksha-Wolfe fouled out of the competition, eventually won by Lethbridge’s Kayla Gallagher. Meanwhile, the biggest competition for nationals on Thursday was the pentathlon events that ran from midway through the afternoon throughout the rest of the day. Calgary’s women winning gold and silver and Windsor’s men winning gold and silver as well, were a big reason that these teams took the top spots in the standings by the end of the day.
The second day of nationals kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon with the finals for men’s weight throw.