OTTAWA (CIS) – The University of Windsor Lancers hope to sweep the team banners for the second straight year later this week when the best university track and field athletes in the country meet in Winnipeg for the 2012 CIS indoor championships.

Championship website:

The three-day national meet, hosted for the first time since 2005 by the University of Manitoba, kicks off Thursday at 11 a.m. Central with the season awards luncheon at Marshall McLuhan Hall on the campus of the U of M.

The first final of the championships, the women’s weight throw, follows shortly after, at 2 p.m., at the Max Bell Field House. The meet concludes Saturday afternoon with the always exciting 4x400m relays.

The Windsor women are looking for a fourth consecutive CIS title. After edging archrival Guelph by a single point back in 2009, they crushed the competition at the last two Nationals, winning by 41 points over Toronto in 2010 and by 55.5 over Guelph a year ago.

Two weeks ago, Windsor “three-peated” as OUA champion thanks to a 13-point lead over Western.

Interestingly enough, despite their status as reigning national and conference champs, the Lancer women head into the CIS meet ranked second behind the Guelph Gryphons, who settled for third place at the OUA championships. Western and Toronto are tied for third in the latest rankings published Tuesday, while Saskatchewan rounds out the top five.

On the men’s side, the Lancers were even more dominant at last year’s Nationals, finishing with a mind-boggling 84-point lead over Regina. With the triumph, Windsor avenged a heartbreaking one-point loss to Guelph in 2010.

The Lancers picked up where they left off this season as they claimed a 14th straight OUA men’s title. They are 34.5-point favourites this week, with conference rivals Guelph, York, Ottawa and Western following in order in the rankings.

In the other conferences, the 2012 team banners went to Saskatchewan (women) and Calgary (men) in Canada West, Sherbrooke (women) and Laval (men) in the RSEQ, as well as Dalhousie with yet another sweep in the AUS.

Individually, Windsor’s Nicole Sassine and Guelph’s Tim Hendry were named the most valuable female and male performers at the OUA championships. Sassine captured four medals, including gold in the 300m and the 4×200 relay. Hendry set a meet record in the shot put (17.68m) and added a silver medal in the weight throw.

In the Maritimes, StFX’s Susie Lajoie and Dalhousie’s Simon Watts were the MVPs of the AUS championships. Lajoie reached the podium three times including first-place finishes in the 60m hurdles and the triple jump, while Watts was crowned in the high, long and triple jumps.

In Quebec, Sherbrooke’s Pascale Délisle was named the outstanding female athlete for the third straight year after she set an RSEQ record in the pentathlon (3,859 points). Laval’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutot earned the male honour thanks to a five-medal haul at the conference championships, including gold in the 1,500m and the 4×400 and 4×800 relays.

In Canada West, Victoria’s Adam Gaudes earned the men’s performance of the meet award thanks to his first-place finishes in the 600m and the 4×400. The women’s award went to the Vikes 4×800 relay team of Grace Annear, Shauna McInnis, Kenda Pomfret and Rachel Francois.

NOTES: The list of CIS season awards which will be handed out at Thursday’s luncheon includes: athletes of the year in track events (female & male), athletes of the year in field events (female & male), rookies of the year (female & male), and student-athlete community service awards (female & male)… Female and a male championship MVPs will be named at the conclusion of the meet, while the Sue Wise Award will go to the women’s coach of the year and the Bob Boucher Award to the men’s coach of the year.