Eight medals for Gaels in New Haven

Track and field athletes yet to qualify for nationals

The Queen’s track team returned from the Dartmouth Indoor Classic with eight medals, a Queen’s record, three all-time top 10 performances and 17 personal bests.

But they have yet to have a single athlete qualify for the ational championships.

“We have no one qualified for CIS at this point, and that’s never happened in my 18 years here,”
head coach Melody Torcolacci said. “There are some people that for sure should be there, but haven’t
done it yet.”

Athletes qualify by beating the national standard, set by the top six times from the previous year.
Finishing in the top two at the provincial championships will also guarantee qualification.

“The actual performances were well ahead of last year’s. People were running faster, throwing further, jumping higher.” She added that due to the growing popularity of the sport, it was difficult to predict how well the team was going to do at the start of the season.

“Track and field in the country is exploding. If you asked me in September, I would have said that [by now] we would have a pretty good number of athletes going to [nationals],” she said. Torcolacci stressed that the number of national qualifications is not indicative of the team’s performance this season. “Looking at [nationals] qualifying numbers, you’d think we’re doing horribly,” she said. “But the team is doing really, really well. It’s a reflection of where the sport is heading, which is great.”

At Dartmouth, hurdler Lisa McCutcheon broke the all-time Queen’s record for the 60-metre hurdles event, a record that has stood since 1991.

Her time of 9 minutes 22 seconds was good enough for a gold medal in her event. McCutcheon came close to breaking the record in the last meet at McGill, but fell short by 0.04 seconds.

Other gold-medal performances were turned in by Matt Hulse in the 1,000-metres, Dupe Oyewumi in the 60-metre sprint, Danae Benjamin in triple jump, and the women’s 4 x 200-metre relay team. There are two more meets before the provincial championships. The team will compete tomorrow at Cornell and next weekend at McGill. “Pretty much, all of our top end people are in action this eekend,”
Torcolacci said. “I’m pretty sure that after this weekend, we’ll have a couple people sitting in pretty good position [for nationals].”

Ultimately, Torcolacci said, the athletes should be at their best for the provincial championships.
“The kids are working hard, and the coaching staff have programs to have them peaked at provincials],” she said.

“If people are to have their best performances of the year, it should be at [provincials], so we’ll see what happens then.” With the sport getting more popular, Torcolacci expects upcoming seasons to be tougher. She and the rest of the coaching staff are also preparing for a high turnover this season.

“Things go in cycles, up and down,” she said. “We’re losing a lot of kids this year due to graduation.
“We’ve been recruiting like crazy. But whether kids come or not is up in the air. We’re doing the best job we can to keep us competitive.”

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