Always a bridesmaid

Queen’s grabs three silvers at CIS championships

Queen’s runner Jan Stirling fires out of the starting blocks.
Queen’s runner Jan Stirling fires out of the starting blocks.
Photo courtesy of Melody Torcolacci

A trip to the CIS championships last weekend closed out what might be the track team’s second-best season of all time. Head coach Melody Torcolacci said she is working on compiling the statistics but believed from the start that this year’s team is one of the most talented that Queen’s has ever seen.

“We knew we had an exceptional group,” she said.

After a successful season, twenty Gaels qualified for the nationals in Saskatoon—five more athletes than last year.

The highlights of the meet were the performances of silver medalists Braden Novakowski, Bill Woods, and the women’s 4x400-metre relay.

Novakowski, competing in the 1,500 metres, posted his second-fastest indoor time to earn second-best in the CIS. Running a gutsy race in which he went out in front to build a large lead, according to Torcolacci, he clocked in at 3:53.04, finishing half of a second off the winner and half of a second ahead of the bronze medalist.

Woods ended his five-year career as a triple jumper at Queen’s on a high note, improving on his CIS bronze-medal performance in 2005. He made his best jump of the season with a leap of 14.55 metres, 12 centimetres farther than last year.

In addition to their silver medals, Woods and Novakowski were named All-Canadians.

The women’s 4x400-metre relay crew of Calla Humphries, Celia Peters, Jan Stirling, and Joanna Stanisz is the fastest that Queen’s has ever seen. Improving on their pre-event ranking by three places, and breaking the Queen’s record, the women earned the team’s third silver medal of the meet.

The crew is now in possession of the Queen’s first, third, fourth and fifth all-time best times. With the only fourth-year student on the crew, Calla Humphries, hoping to return to Queen’s in the Faculty of Education next year, the future looks bright for these women.

Third-year student and three-time CIS championships competitor Imola Major kicked off the meet Thursday competing in the pentathlon. Entering the meet ranked twelfth and looking to challenge her own Queen’s record of 3,182 points, she got off to a solid start in the hurdles. It was an emotional as well as physical challenge to complete the event, with the memory of her first-hurdle crashes at both last year’s CIS championships and this year’s OUA championships still fresh in her mind, Torroclacci said. Her time of 10.00 seconds was not her best, but it left her in a good position to move up in the rankings.

The next event was her individual specialty, the high jump, in which she tied for second, putting her in seventh place going into the rest of the events. After the shot put, long jump, and 800-metre race, Major finished the event in eleventh place, improving upon her pre-event ranking by one spot.

Having qualified for two separate events, she also finished eighth in her specialty, the high jump, with a jump of 1.60 metres.

Thursday also saw rookie Celia Peters competing in the 600 metres. Needing to finish in the top two of her heat to advance, she was unlucky in drawing what Torcolacci said was the fastest heat.

Despite finishing just shy of a spot in the final, Peters ran a strong race, posting a time of 1:35.65 for seventh place overall.

First up on Friday was the women’s 4x200-metre relay. Sarah Colangelo, Jen Tam, Jan Stirling, and Joanna Stanisz battled through a minor exchange problem between Tam and Stirling—an issue that had been plaguing the women all year—to post their second fastest time of the season.

The women moved up two places from eleventh to ninth on their pre-event ranking and brought home the fifth-best 4x200-metre race in Queen’s history.

Weight thrower Tipper McEwan also competed Friday, but was not able to perform to his normal standards. Coming off of a disappointing performance at the OUA championships, McEwan was struggling with the technical aspects of his event.

Despite a standout season, including a personal best throw of 15.75 metres only a few weeks ago, he was unable to get it together on the day, throwing 13.56 metres for a twelfth-place finish. Though it was a disappointing way to end his five-year career as a Golden Gael, McEwan will still be remembered as an outstanding athlete, Torcolacci said.

Also performing in his last meet as a Golden Gael, long jumper Jon Martin endured an agonizing roller coaster of a competition.

Martin’s first jump, one that his coach Ted Farndon believed was in not only Queen’s but also CIS record territory, was called foul. His second jump was also called foul. Hoping to secure a place in the final he was forced to jump conservatively, coming in at 6.89 metres, putting him in third place. In the fourth round Martin made another phenomenal jump, Farndon said, only to have it called foul once again. Despite a disappointing seventh-place overall finish, he will leave as the second-best long jumper in Queen’s history, by measure of both total medal count and distance jumped.

Moving up three spots from his pre-event ranking and barely missing a place on the podium was high-jumper Lance Mukoro.

He had a slow season due to an ankle injury, Torcolacci said, but was able to rise to the occasion, putting in his best jump of the season and his second-best jump ever, at 2.01 metres. Mukoro is also a three-time competitor at the CIS championships.

Torcolacci said this year’s squad is one of the most evenly talented she’s ever coached.

“This is a really balanced group across both genders, in all events,” she said.

The team surpassed last year’s medal count and put in one of the best seasons in Golden Gaels history.

“We did have very high expectations for the season,” Torcolacci said, adding that, without a doubt, the squad exceeded those expectations.

Torcolacci credits the coaches with a lot of the team’s successes but said that it really comes down to the athletes.

“It’s the kids. It’s their attitude. They want to excel and are working hard to excel,” she said.

She said she is looking forward to another successful season to come, knowing her athletes will be ready to take it to the next level.

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