Preview: Windsor looks to defend OUA Track and Field titles on home turf


Source: OUA Communications

HAMILTON, Ont. – With Ontario squads dominating both themen’s and women’s national rankings, the OntarioUniversity Athletics (OUA) Track and Field Championships are sureto feature some of the top collegiate athletic talent in thecountry. The event, hosted by the University of Windsor, will takeplace February 21-22.

For up to date information and results from the OUA Trackand Field Championship, visit the championship home page, here.Live streaming coverage of the championship can be seen here.

The hosts are looking to continue their OUA success. The Windsormen, currently ranked No. 3 in Canadian Interuniversity Sport(CIS), will be looking to take their 15th consecutive team titleand their 22nd in the last 23 years. Not to be outdone, theLancers’ women’s squad, ranked fourth in the CIS, hasclaimed three straight banners, and seven of the last eight.

Windsor’s men’s team is bolstered by fourth-yearsprinter Aaron Bowman and second-year multi-event athlete BrandenWilhelm. Bowman (London, Ont.) is the defending OUA 60-metrechampion and has the top time in the CIS this season at 6.73seconds. Wilhelm (Woodstock, Ont.), improving on his rookiecampaign, currently holds the top CIS ranking in the pentathlon,but also ranks second in high jump with a mark of 2.11 metres andfifth in long jump with a leap of 7.10 metres.

The Lancers are also looking for strong results from distancerunners Fraser Kegel (Aurora, Ont.), Matt Walters (North Bay, Ont.)and Nicholas Falk (Windsor, Ont.) , who are all ranked in the topfive in the 1500-metre and the top eight in the 3000-metre. Kegelholds the No. 2 ranking in the 1500m and has the top time posted byan OUA athlete this season (3:48.23).

Posing the biggest threat to the Windsor men’s title run maybe the Guelph Gryphons. The Gryphons are currently the top-rankedteam in the CIS and are looking to carry over the success theyachieved in cross country to some of the distance events at the OUAchampionships.

Gryphons’ first-year runner Yves Sikuwabo’s time of2:23.50 in the 1000-metres is the top time in the CIS thisyear, but the Ottawa native’s time is only four onehundredths of a second better than the number two time, posted byGuelph teammate Anthony Romaniw (Hamilton, Ont.). In the3000-metres, Guelph runners boast the top three times posted by OUAathletes this year. Leading the way is Andrew Nixon (Thunder Bay,Ont.), whose time of 8:04.30 gives him the number one ranking inthe CIS. His teammates Ross Proudfoot (Lively, Ont.) andAaron Hendrikx (Parkhill, Ont.) are close behind.

Tim Hendry hopes to bring Guelph medals in points in the throwingevents. A native of Parry Sound, Ont., Hendry is the top rankedathlete in the CIS in the shot put after taking gold at the McGillTeam Challenge in January. His top ranked distance of 18.33 metresis nearly half a metre better than his closest CIS competitor.Hendry also holds the No. 4 ranking in the 35-pound weightthrow.

The Western Mustangs enter the OUA championships on the heels ofclaiming the CIS title in 2012. Currently ranked third in the CIS,the strength of the Mustangs squad is their versatility, with medalhopefuls in nearly every event.

Matt Brisson earned silver in the 60-metre hurdles at the 2012 OUAchampionships for Western, and looks to climb to the top of thepodium this year. Brisson, from St. Thomas, Ont., is currently thetop ranked runner in the 60-metre hurdles in the CIS and his 7.99time is the only sub-eight second time posted this season. The top ranked runner in the 600-metres also wears purple. ScottLeitch (London, Ont.) posted a time of 1:18.67, nearly half-secondbetter than the nearest competitor, to earn the number one rankingin the event. Leitch also runs the anchor leg of the Mustangs topranked 4×800 metre relay team.

Western is also hoping Taylor Stewart can leap to gold. Stewart ismaking a name for himself in his rookie season. The London,Ont. native holds the top ranking in the CIS in long jump afterposting a 7.61-metre jump at the Meyo Invitational meet at theUniversity of Notre Dame in Indiana. Stewart is also ranked secondin triple jump (14.57m), best amongst OUA competition.

The fifth-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees are a team built for speed. TheGee-Gees sprinters are led by Oluwasegun Makinde (Ottawa) andMichael Robertson (Williamstown, Ont.). Makinde, who served as analternate on the Canadian 4×100-metre relay team at the 2012 LondonOlympics, is ranked fourth in the CIS in the 60-metres (6.82),third in the 60-metre hurdles (8.13) and third in the 300-metre(0:34.21). Robertson holds the top ranking in the 300-metre(0:33.83) and posted a 6.96 time in the 60-metre. The pair, coupledwith Gabriel Tesfaye (London, Ont.) and Tolu Makinde (Ottawa),combine to form the top ranked 4×200-metre relay team in theCIS.

The York Lions enter the 2013 OUA Track and Field Championships asthe sixth-ranked team in the CIS. At this point in the season,field events have been the strength of the Lions squad. DanielNovia (Mississauga, Ont.) ranks first in the CIS in the 35-pountweight throw, with a heave of 20.15 metres, while teammate EricBrathwaite (Brampton, Ont.) holds the third position. Novia is alsoamong the top shot putters in the nation, currently ranked fourth,behind teammate Umar Khan (Markham, Ont.) whose 17.67-metre throwranks him third. Rich Jansen (Bradford, Ont.) currently rankssecond in the OUA and fifth in the CIS with a 14.29-metre leap inthe triple jump and David McKay (Victoria, B.C.) is the top rankedOUA athlete, second in the CIS, in the pole vault with aseason-best 4.84-metre jump.

The women’s side is as hotly contested as the men’s.The Windsor Lancers enter as the three-time defending OUAchampions, but are currently ranked fourth in the CIS and third inthe OUA. Their title hopes rest largely on the shoulders ofthrowers Shealynn McLaughlin, Celine Gibb and Ami Schimanski, aswell as hurdler Amilia Di Chiara.

The group of throwers is among the best in the CIS. McLaughlin(Essex, Ont.) is ranked third in both the shot put and 20-poundweight throw and earned gold in both events at the York Openearlier this month. Gibb and Schimanski are more specialists.Schimanski (Brussells, Ont.) ranks second in the weight throw(17.89 metres), while Gibb holds the top ranking in the shot put(14.60 metres) and the 15th rank in the weight throw.

Di Chiara holds the top spot in the CIS in the 60-metre hurdles.The Thornhill, Ont. native posted her CIS-best time of 8.48 at theWindsor Team Challenge, which was hosted in the same venue as theOUA Championships. Di Chiara also posted a gold medal performanceat the York Open and earned silver at the Mike Lints Open at GrandValley Statue University in Michigan earlier this year.

The Lancers are also hoping to gain points from their fifth-ranked4x200-metre relay team, middle distance runners Heather Kurpe(Grimsby, Ont.) and Samantha Kellam (Amherstburg, Ont.) and3000-metre specialist Jen Corrick (Orillia, Ont.).

Bolstered by a strong group of middle and long-distance runners,the Guelph Gryphons look poised to dethrone the Lancers this yearas they enter the championships as the top ranked team in the CIS.In the 3000m, Guelph boasts four of the top five runners in theCIS, including CIS cross country champion Andrea Seccafien (Guelph,Ont.) who holds the top spot with a time of 9:20.64 and No. 2Genevieve Lalonde (Moncton, N.B.). What may be even more impressiveis that Gryphon runners hold six of the top nine spots in the1500-metre rankings, led by St. Andrews, Ont. native Lydia Frostwhose time of 4:24.64 sits her third, just ahead of fourth-rankedteammate Lalonde.

Guelph will also be strong in the relay events. The 4×800-metreteam of Carise Thompson, Seccafien, Lalonde and Nadine Frost postedthe only sub-nine minute time in the CIS this year (8:59.28) to winthe event at the McGill Team Challenge in January.

Additionally, Julia Wallace will be relied on for medal finishes inthe long jump, triple jump and high jump. Wallace (Whitby, Ont.) isranked third in the high jump (1.75 metres) and long jump (5.90metres) and second in the triple jump (12.58 metres). Her high jumpand long jump rankings are the highest of any OUA athlete in theevents.

The University of Toronto will also field a strong squad at the2013 championships. The Varsity Blues are ranked second inthe CIS, and will bring a well rounded team to Windsor in hopes ofclaiming their first OUA banner since 2004. The Blues have medalhopefuls in nearly every track event, including sprinters KhamicaBingham and Hayley Warren, middle distance runners Sarah Wells andNatalie Geiger, and distance runner Colleen Hennessey (Oakville,Ont.). Rachel Jewett (Toronto) is also a favorite for gold in thepentathlon, and is the defending OUA champion in the event.

In her first season, Bingham (Brampton, Ont.) has made people takenotice, holding the No. 1 ranking in both the 60-metres (7.44) andthe 300-metres (0:38.33). Warren (Orillia, Ont.) posted a time of8.48 in the 60-metre hurdles, which leaves her tied for the top CISranking in the event.

In addition to their respective fifth and sixth CIS ranking in the300-metres, the duo of Wells (Unionville, Ont.) and Geiger willgive the Blues an excellent chance at a podium finish in the600-metre as well. Wells is ranked second nationally in the 600(1:30.29), and is tops among OUA runners. Geiger, who joins theVarsity Blue after three years competing in the NCAA with the NotreDame Fighting Irish, ranks fourth in the OUA and sixth in the CISin the event.

It has been ten years since the Western Mustangs women last claimedan OUA championship in track and field. Entering this year’sevent ranked fifth in the CIS and fourth in the OUA, the Mustangswill hope gain medals and strong finishes in a wide variety ofevents. One of the Mustang’s biggest gold medal favourites ispole vaulter Robin Bone (Darien, Conn.). In her first season ofcompetition, Bone is the top ranked OUA athlete in the event andher mark of 4.04 metres is enough to be ranked third in the CIS.Caroline Ehrhardt (Espanola, Ont.) will also be a force in thehorizontal jump events for Western. The third-year athlete is holdsthe top CIS ranking in the triple jump (12.74 metres) and is rankedfifth in the long jump with a mark of 5.82 metres.

On the track, Brenna Thomson (De Winton, Alta.) is a medal hopefulin the 60-metre and 300-metre for the Mustangs. Thomson’s300-metre time of 0:39.06 is the third best in both the OUA and CISthis year, and she ranks fifth in the CIS with a time of 7.66 inthe 60-metres. The Mustangs are also looking to post medal resultsin both the 4×200 and 4×400 metre relays, with Thomson playing akey role in both events.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees enter the championships ranked ninth in theCIS. The Gee-Gees are led by middle distance runner EmmaGalbraith. The Merrickville, Ont. native is second in the CISrankings for the 1000-metres with a time of 2:46.89, and fifth inthe 600-metres (1:31.78) and 1500-metres (4:28.24). Hurdler DevyaniBiswal (Ottawa) will also look to reach the podium for the garnetand grey. Biswal posted a time of 8.67 in the 60-metre hurdles atthe New Balance Collegiate Invitational in February, giving her thefourth ranking in the CIS.

Other field teams at the 2013 OUA Track & Field Championshipswill be York, Lakehead, Laurier, McMaster, Ryerson, Queen’s,Waterloo and a women’s contingent from Laurentian.

The 2013 OUA Track & Field Championships will take place at theSt. Denis Centre on the campus of the University of Windsor. Action will begin February 21 at 12:30 p.m. with the men’sweight throw and will wrap up at approximately 5 p.m. on February22 with the final medal presentations. A full schedule ofevents and other information on the championships can be found atthe event website here. The OUA Track and Field Championships willbe available by live video streaming here. And remember to for results.

Scott Harrigan
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