Running for gold

Fifth-year captain to run solo and relay events at nationals

Five Queen’s track and field athletes are competing for national medals at the University of Manitoba this weekend.

Captain and fifth-year athlete Michael Nishiyama is the only individual Queen’s runner at the CIS championship, competing in the 1,000-metre race. He’ll join Joshua Potvin, Michael Bentley and Alex Hutton for the 4x800 metre relay.

The relay team qualified for nationals after placing fourth at the OUA championship at York University last month with a time of seven minutes, 43 seconds and four milliseconds. They finished behind the first-place Windsor Lancers, the second-place Western Mustangs and the third-place Guelph Gryphons.

Although the Gaels aren’t favoured this weekend, they can expect to be competitive — all 10 team’s best times are within six seconds of each other.

“Our expectations are really just to post a faster time than we did at OUAs,” Nishiyama said. “We know we’re capable of it.”

Nishiyama said the team will be better-rested ahead of this weekend’s competition in Winnipeg.

“The track at York isn’t the best, so we’re hoping out in Winnipeg, we’ll race faster,” he said. “A couple of us had to race right before the relay [at OUAs].

“At [nationals], we’ll have fresh legs.”

Nishiyama qualified for the 1,000-metre race after recording a time of 2:26.27 at the Boston University’s Valentine Invitational on Feb. 11, the 10th fastest time posted by a CIS runner all season. He placed sixth at the OUA final after running just over two seconds behind Ryan Armstrong, the gold medalist from the Mustangs.

“I want to race better than I did [at the OUAs],” Nishiyama said.

This weekend’s national championship will be Nishiyama’s last competitive event as a Gael.

“It’s kind of exciting, I’ve had a really great career,” he said. “I just want to race my best this weekend.”

Since the Gaels are only sending five athletes to nationals, they won’t be in contention for any team awards. The Windsor Lancers men’s and women’s teams are both favourites for team gold medals — the Lancers’ men are looking for the third title in four seasons, while the women are seeking their fourth straight championship.

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