EDMONTON (U SPORTS) — Alberta sprinters thrilled the home crowd by sweeping the 300-metre events, while Guelph and Toronto took the lead in the men’s and women’s team standings, respectively, after Day 2 of the U SPORTS Track & Field Championships at the Universiade Pavilion.
Guelph opened up a big lead in the men’s standings with 100 points, while Laval (45.50) and Toronto (28) have a ton of ground to make up heading into the final day on Saturday.
Toronto, however, squeaked past Guelph in the women’s standings (65.50 to 63.50) after a late-breaking women’s pole vault result. Western and host Alberta are tied for third with 47 points each.
With the benefit of the home crowd, Alberta gained energy as the day moved along.
First, Carline Muir, who returned the U of A in January after competing for Team Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics, blew the doors off the women’s 300m field, finishing just shy of the U SPORTS record in 37.47 seconds. Dalhousie’s Adrienne Power ran a 37.35 in 2005 to set the standard.
“I ran it smart and cautious with the way I’ve been feeling,” said Muir, who has been dealing with a hamstring strain. “I’m happy with that. It’s a personal best and a school record.
“Overall, I’m very excited with how the last twoandahalf years have been going,” added Muir, who has one more day of U SPORTS competition before getting ready to represent Canada at the upcoming world championships.
Toronto’s Katrina Innanen (38.90) and Guelph’s Jenna Smith (38.95) rounded out the podium.
Alberta rookie Austin Cole kept the raucous Evergreen and Gold home fans in good spirits, after throwing on the after-burners down the back straight to track down and pass Western’s Ramzi Abdulah at the line for the men’s 300m gold.
“I was just like, ‘I’m not letting this guy beat me,’ - that’s all that was going through my mind,” explained Cole, who finished in 33.64, just shy of a U SPORTS record of 33.40 (Alexander Marchand, Sherbrooke) that’s stood for 18 years. “I’ve been watching (Ramzi) on the boards all year and he’s always been one-upping me. But not this time, not on my home turf, that’s for sure.”
Abdulah came in at 33.71 for silver, while Dalhousie’s Mike Van Der Poel claimed bronze in 34.10.
To conclude the night, Alberta finished 1-2 in women’s pole vault as Paige Ridout won a jump-off with teammate Meghan Lim at 4.02m. Western’s Robin Bone won the bronze.
“I like jump-offs,” said Ridout, who had to go through one at the Canada West Championships, too. “Being that it was with Meghan, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would have liked to have jumped higher, but it’s my last championships ever, so to get gold really puts a cherry on top of this season.”
Guelph surged in the men’s standings behind great performances like the one from weight throw (35 lbs) star Jared Skeath. He claimed his thirdstraight U SPORTS gold medal in the discipline and announced his retirement afterward.
“It’s been destroying my body for five years, so I’m officially retiring from the weight throw,” said the fifth-year Marine Freshwater Biology student-athlete after winning the event with a hurl of 19.91 metres.
“Every year I’ve had a (personal best) at nationals. This year, not quite a PB, but five throws over 19. Three in a row’s awesome.”
Sherbrooke’s Marc-Antoine Lafrenaye-Dugas (19.38m) and Lethbridge’s Peter Millman (18.82m) rounded out the podium.
Toronto’s theme of the day was family connections.
Sisters Lucia and Gabriela Stafford factored in three golds for the Varsity Blues. Younger sister Lucia claimed the women’s 1000m, before running the anchor leg for Toronto’s victorious women’s 4x800m relay squad. Older sister Gabriela, meanwhile, was busy winning the women’s 3000m.
“I’m really excited, especially since it’s my first year and I have a lot more to go,” said Lucia Stafford, who won the women’s 1000m in 2:47.70, off of sister Gabriela’s U SPORTS record of 2:41.67, set last year. “My time wasn’t really fast, but I think it was really good for my confidence…just to be able to close really fast.”
She beat Calgary’s Jenna Westaway (2:47.73) and Toronto teammate Madeleine Kelly (2:48.21) to the line.
Then Varsity Blues heptathlete Rostam Turner claimed gold with 5,368 points, just six short of older brother James Turner’s U SPORTS record set last season. Carleton’s Telvin Tavernier (5,267) and Guelph’s Mark Emode (5,157) rounded out the podium.
“It’s an awesome feeling, for sure,” said Turner, who got a further thrill when Canadian Olympic decathlon bronze medalist Damian Warner presented his medal at the ceremony. “I think a big part of multi-events is just finishing. It’s an accomplishment in itself, so it’s a really good feeling and I had a fun time with the group of guys here.”
In the men’s high jump, after two straight national silver medals, Manitoba’s Alhaji Mansaray finally broke through with a gold on Friday. He cleared 2.10 metres, while Guelph’s Sean Cate just wobbled the bar off to settle for silver with 2.07m. Calgary’s Colin Unruh won a tiebreaker of four athletes who cleared 2.01m for the bronze.
“It means a lot because I’ve never gotten the gold. I’ve always got second place, (in both 2015 and 2016),” said the fourth-year Arts student-athlete, who fled war-torn Sierra Leone as a child with his family. “I was telling my coach this year ‘Let me come in and get the gold.’”