Athletes qualify for nationals

Track and field teams pick up two silver medals, finish eighth overall

Queen’s returned home with two silver medals from last weekend’s OUA track and field championships at York University. Leslie Sexton made the podium with a runner-up finish in the women’s 3,000 meter race and the men’s 4x400 metre relay team lost a tight battle down the stretch against the Windsor Lancers to earn the team’s second silver.

The Gaels finished eighth overall at the championships on both the men’s and women’s side.

“You wouldn’t necessarily think eighth place would be a positive performance,” said head coach Melody Torcolacci. “But it was. We went in ranked eighth, we came out ranked eighth and we came out with more points than we went going in with. We at least performed up to, and certainly I thought, exceeded expectations. We had nobody in a medal position going into the meet and we came home with two silver medals.”

She said the level of competition is continuously rising in the sport of track and field and the Gaels will need to keep up to be competitive.

“It’s a relative level that we’re comparing to,” she said. “From a historical track perspective here at Queen’s, the performances that are being put up are as good or if not better than anything we’ve ever done in the past. It’s just the whole standard of the competition is way up.”

Torcolacci said Sexton’s performance was particularly impressive. “Leslie went out and ran a personal best,” Torcolacci said. “She’s never run faster on a 200 meter track. The Guelph girls tried to thwart her and pack run to get way out ahead of her but she seemed to know what speed she was going at and it paid off in the long run.”

Torcolacci attributed the successes of Adrian Heller, Tyler Nightengale, Gord Frenke and Michael Nishiyama, the men’s 4x400 relay team, to their hard work and perseverance over the entire season.

“It’s a neat group,” she said. “They worked really hard and they all committed to each other right from the fall. They’ve pushed each other and, as a result, everyone’s gotten better.”

The men’s 4x400 relay team and Sexton both qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity track and field championships next weekend at the University of Windsor. They will be joined by the men’s 4X200 relay team, the women’s 4X200 relay team and the women’s 4X400 relay team, as well as individual qualifiers Veronica Catry, Leah Larocque, Jan Stirling and Gord Frenke. Both the women’s and men’s 4X800 relay teams may also qualify depending on other teams’ results. Nishiyama expects the relay team to be ready to compete with the best in the country thanks to its strong performance last weekend, where they finished only half a second behind the Lancers

“We were very close to the first place team that won OUAs and that definitely puts us close for CIs. Once we’re at CIs, we’ll be looking to perform really well.”

He said the team’s cohesiveness will allow them to set their sights high for the upcoming finals.

“The four of us individually are not completely outstanding athletes but, together, we have a very solid team,” he said. “With us all performing at our best, we can compete with everyone else. We’re looking to take down the team that won at OUAs.”

The Canadian Interuniversity Sport track and field championship will happen between Mar. 12 and 14 at the University of Windsor.

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