After five seasons with the track and field team, co-captain Michael Nishiyama is hanging up his sneakers.
He was one of five Queen’s athletes who travelled to the University of Manitoba to compete at nationals last weekend, racing in the 1,000-metre race before running the 4x800-metre relay with teammates Josh Potvin, Alex Hutton and last-minute replacement Jeff Mountjoy.
The Gaels placed ninth in the relay with a time of seven minutes, 46 seconds and 55 milliseconds, but Nishiyama said they wanted to do better.
Mountjoy, who filled in after Michael Bentley came down with the flu the previous day, posted a personal best of 1:57.04 in his portion of the race.
The Western Mustangs finished ahead of the second-place Victoria Vikes and the third-place Guelph Gryphons.
Nishiyama fared better in the 1,000-metre event — although he was seeded 10th going into the weekend, he grabbed sixth place with a time of 2:26.86.
“My time was my second best for the season,” he said. “I was pretty happy with it.”
His best time, 2:26.27, came at Boston University’s Valentine Invitational on Feb. 11th. But Nishiyama still said he didn’t expect to do so well against tough competition in Winnipeg.
“Coming in sixth was a little bit of a surprise,” Nishiyama said. “But at the same time the guys who were in the race were all ranked really closely together, so anyone could have won or lost.”
Guelph’s Tommy Lecours won the race, breaking a 13-year-old Canadian Interuniversity Sport record by almost a full second with his time of 2:22.09. The Laval Rouge et Or’s Jean-Samuel Lapointe and Charles Philibert-Thibou won silver and bronze, respectively.
Overall, the Mustangs won their first-ever national men’s title, while the Windsor Lancers won their fourth-straight women’s championship.
The CIS championship was Nishiyama’s last time running for Queen’s, ending a career that included winning MVP of the men’s track and field team last season.
“It’s been a long five years, but it’s been a great experience,” he said, adding that he’ll particularly miss his teammates.
“A lot of the people I train with are incredibly talented guys and I’ve always looked up to them,” he said. “Getting to know the team has been the best part about it.”
Even though he’s used up all his eligibility, Nishiyama said he still has plans to race with head coach Steve Boyd’s local Kingston club next year.
“I’m back again next year to finish up my Master’s degree,” he said. “I’m going to be talking with Steve, hopefully he’ll be coaching me on the side.”