All three T-Birds at NACAC meet return with medals

Maria Bernard NACAC

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – All three UBC Thunderbirds track and field representatives at the 2014 North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-23 Championships in Kamloops found a place on the podium while representing Canada this weekend.

Maria Bernard, the current NAIA champion in the women’s 3000-metre steeplechase, placed second in the same event at the NACAC meet on Saturday. The Calgarian ran a personal-best nine minutes and 55.69 seconds to earn the silver medal and the distinction of being the fifth-fastest Canadian woman in the history of the 3000-m steeplechase.
Bernard’s time was better than the previous NACAC games record but gold medal-winner Rachel Johnson also surpassed that mark by crossing the finish line in 9:46.79.
“I’m really happy I could break 10 minutes; that was one of my goals for the season,” said Bernard, who ran her first steeplechase since high school earlier this year. “I had a few races where I had the opportunity to get under 10 but didn’t quite get it, so I’m really happy that came along with the silver medal.
“Every time you get to be on a podium, it’s special and it’s especially significant if you get to wear the Canada jersey, so I’m really happy and I’m happy my teammate could be up there with me.”
Fellow Canadian Julie-Anne Staehli won the bronze medal.
Joy Spear Chief-Morris, a native of Lethbridge, Alta., also won a silver medal on Saturday, as part of Canada’s women’s 4×100-m relay team. She ran an impressive second leg for Canada, which clocked a time of 45.19 seconds to finish behind the United States at 43.89.
Individually, Spear Chief-Morris was fourth in the women’s 100-m dash with a time of 11.84.
Former T-Bird Ben Thorne, capped off the weekend by claiming gold in the 20,000-m race walk, completing the race in 1:29:08.64, more than two minutes ahead of his nearest competitor from the United States.
Thorne, of Kitimat, B.C., was one of six Canadians who won gold medals in Kamloops.

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