2015 season begins at home for UBC Track & Field

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Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds track and field team has the luxury of opening the 2015 outdoor season at home on Saturday as Rasphal Dhillon plays host to the UBC Open. Athletes will get their first opportunity to qualify for the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championship, which culminates at the end of May in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
 
Coming off a stellar fall season where she won her first NAIA cross country title, Maria Bernard debuts the outdoor season in the women’s 5,000m, joined by five other T-Birds in the event. Among them is Amelie de Fenoyl, a two-time NAIA track silver medalist, who was second in last year’s 10,000m in Alabama.
 
The women’s 800m will see Devan Wiebe and Tamara Harris in the nine-athlete field as both are NAIA gold medalists as part of the women’s 4x800m relay. Any time below 2:14.50 will earn them an automatic berth to the national championships.
 
Second year Connor Smith highlights the UBC contingency in the men’s javelin and looks to qualify for his second straight national championship, a year removed from doing so in his rookie season. The Grimsby, Ontario native boasts a personal best of 57.29 metres, a mark set in the penultimate meet of the 2014 season.
 
In the same discipline, Christine Ausman will look to be the class of the field in the women’s javelin after placing fourth at the 2014 NAIA Championships, her best ever placing. With an in-season personal best of 45.17 metres, Ausman should have no trouble eclipsing the NAIA ‘A’ standard of 41.00 metres.
 
Undoubtedly, one of the deepest fields of the meet is the men’s 5,000m, which includes Justin Kent, John Gay, Michael Bourgeois, Jesse Hooton, Matt Galea, Evan Elder, and Bilal Shamsi. Elder is a NAIA All-American in cross country, while Hooton competed for Canada at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in the men’s 10,000m. Look for Kent to be a threat to snag his ticket to nationals, as well, as the fourth-year is coming off a strong indoor season.
 
On a related note is the fact that Cliff has already qualified for the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Championships, though not on the track. Cliff ran 1:10:53 at the Vancouver Half, which puts him atop the NAIA leaderboard and which qualified him for the full marathon distance. The same can be said for de Fenoyl, who ran a superb time of 1:20:01 in the same race in February, giving her nearly four minutes on the next best half-marathoner in the NAIA thus far this season.
 
Stephen Abosi looks to continue his year-to-year progression as the third-year junior held the top UBC marks in both the 100m and 200m last season, running 10.94 and 22.35, respectively. Abosi has his work cut out for him in both events this weekend as he needs to shave two-tenths off his 100m time and seven-tenths off his 200m career bests to have any chance of qualifying for the NAIA Championship.
 
Additionally, Devin Rajala and Lukas Jarron, both previous NAIA qualifiers, highlight the men’s 800m. IAAF World Championship qualifier Ben Thorne will take to the track for the 5,000m race-walk and will be joined by UBC alumnus Evan Dunfee, who broke the Canadian 20km race-walk record last season.
 
The men’s decathlon is the first event of the day beginning at 12:30 p.m. while the men’s 5,000m race concludes the afternoon 4:40 p.m.

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