Track gets taste of national field

3 medals for Gaels in Montreal

The Queen’s track team returned from the McGill Team Challenge meet last weekend with two all-time top 10 performances and 22 personal bests, but only three medals. Iris Roman won the gold in pole
vault, Katie Mackay took the silver in shot put and Bri Eshleman won the bronze in the weight throw.

As a team, the Queen’s women scored 24 points and tied Dalhousie for seventh in a field of 14 teams.
The men were not as fortunate, finishing 12th out of 13 teams, managing to score just six points. Overall, Ontario teams took the top five places on the women’s side, and four of the top five places on the men’s side.

“It was probably a pretty good indication of what we’re going to face at [nationals] in terms of competition,” distance coach Shane Lakins said. A few of the athletes were competing in their first meet of the year.

“But I think we’ll definitely be in better shape as far as peaking for our championship phase,” he said. There are three more meets remaining for Queen’s before the provincial championships. McGill will also host the national championships in March. Aside from the University of Ottawa, every Ontario school participated in this meet, along with every school from Quebec and many Atlantic conference teams. No Queen’s athlete has qualified for the national championships yet.

An athlete can qualify for nationals by beating the national standard.

The standard is set by the top six results from the previous year. Finishing in the top two at the provincial championships will also guarantee qualification. Roman currently holds the Queen’s all-time record for pole vault, but has not qualified for the national championships. Lakins said he was “cautiously optimistic” about qualifying chances for his distance runners. “We’ve got at least three on the distance side that should qualify,” he said, referring to rookie Matt Hulse, Rob Kitz and Ontario cross-country champion Braden Novakowski. Hulse and Novakowski compete in the 1,000-metre and 1,500- metre events, and Kitz runs in the 3,000-metre event. Lakins said the 4x800-metre relay team should also qualify.

They finished fourth at the McGill meet with a time of 747.87, three seconds shy of the national standard.

“We’re starting into our championship phase of training now,” Lakins said. “Obviously for the McGill Last Chance and [provincials], we’ll be tapering down.” The Gaels are now preparing for their next meet, hosted by Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Queen’s will not be sending a full contingent of athletes to this event. “Most [of the distance runners] are taking this weekend off,” Lakins said.
“But they’ll be ready for Cornell and McGill.”

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