by Tim Huebsch (Sports Information Assistant)
January 16, 2014, VANCOUVER (ISN) – The UBC Thunderbirds track and field squad will travel south to Seattle this weekend to compete in the UW Indoor Preview, hosted by the University of Washington at the Dempsey Indoor Centre.
Saturday marks the first competition of 2014 and offers the 23-athlete team an opportunity to go head to head with NCAA Division I competition headed by Stanford, Oregon, Gonzaga, Portland and host Washington.
Maria Bernard highlights the UBC contingent in the women’s 3,000 metres as the third-year runner looks to build on a strong cross-country season that saw her capture a bronze medal at the NAIA Cross Country Championships this past November. Bernard is also the reigning NAIA outdoor 1,500m silver medalist.
Coming off a season where she placed ninth at the 2013 NAIA Outdoor Championships in the 100m, sophomore Joy Spear Chief-Morris looks to make her mark early on as she competes in the both the 60m and the 200m. Making their Thunderbird debuts are Laura Harrison and Sarah Korpach, both competing in the 400m, while Mercer Island, Wash. native Harrison doubles up in the 200m as well.
Julia Hawkins highlights the field events as the lone UBC entrant in both the long jump and triple jump. Hawkins was 16th at last year’s NAIA Championships in the triple jump in her first season competing for the T-Birds.
Catherine Farish, following her breakthrough season in cross-country, competes in the 800m while Tamara Harris and Kirsten Lee compete in the 600m, and mile, respectively. All three will join Bernard in the 4x800m, an event in which UBC holds the current NAIA national title, near the conclusion of the meet Saturday.
The newly crowned Canadian Cross Country champion Luc Bruchet will be eyeing UBC history as he aims to surpass the 3,000m school record held by Jeff Schiebler of 7:59.29 set back in 1996 at the CIS Indoor Championships.
“Luc has shown great fitness lately so I’m not too surprised the record may be on the verge of being broken,” noted Schiebler. “The fact that the mark has stood for 18 years is a testament to how hard it is to run indoors, but records are made to be broken.”
Former T-Bird Nigel Hole will pace Bruchet through the halfway point to aid in the attempt to break the coveted eight-minute barrier. Will Cliff, fresh off an All-American accolade from this past cross country season, completes the UBC duo in what will be the second to last event of the day, at 5:30 p.m.
In the shorter distances, UBC has three athletes in the 400m including Thomas Kellner, Mackenzie Koopmans and Sebastian Adulgalski, all entering the weekend with seed times south of 50 seconds, while Stephen Abosi will compete in both the 100m and 200m events.
Making his debut as a UBC Thunderbird is Lukas Jarron, hailing from Ajax, Ont., who enters his freshman season with an impressive high-school resume including a 1:52.75 800m clocking this past summer. Jarron will step down in distance racing the 600m while his teammate Devin Rajala eyes the 800m.
Three Thunderbirds will toe the line in the rarely contested mile as third-year Michael Bourgeois joins Travis Fraser and Jesse Hooton, all with seed times hovering around 4:18. Hooton and Bourgeois are set to join Jarron and Rajala in the 4x800m near the conclusion of the meet.
The team is represented in the field by Patrick Grzelak in the long jump and freshman Koopmans in the shot put, the only two male athletes competing in non-running events.