VANCOUVER – A flurry of NAIA standards were eclipsed on Saturday afternoon as UBC hosted its first outdoor meet of the 2015 track and field season at the Rashpal Dhillon Oval. A dozen NAIA benchmarks were hit by Thunderbirds at the UBC Open, including nine ‘A’ standards, which qualifies them for the pinnacle meet of the season, the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
“Considering the performances by athletes in all disciplines, our season opener was as successful as ever,” said UBC head coach Marek Jedrzejek. “Having the facilities on campus to put on a competitive meet saves our athletes the travel and allows us to perform at our best.”
Going first through fourth, the women’s 5,000 metres was the most competitive race on Saturday as the top four runners, all UBC athletes, ran under the NAIA ‘A’ standard. Maria Bernard (Calgary) topped the seven-athlete field in a personal best time of 16:16.06, followed by Amelie de Fenoyl (Toronto), Natalia Hawthorn (Bracebridge, Ont.), and Kirsten Lee (Port Coquitlam, B.C.).
On the men’s side, Justin Kent (Surrey, B.C.) won the 5,000m in a very attractive time of 14:27.74, which was nearly 20 seconds clear of the NAIA ‘A’ standard, giving him the top time in that event. Evan Elder (Christchurch, New Zealand) finished third in a time of 14:49.73, which gives him the ‘B’ standard in that event.
Elsewhere, a pair of javelin throwers had strong starts to the season including Christine Ausman (Ottawa), thanks to a throw of 42.90 metres, and Grimsby, Ont.’s Connor Smith‘s huge personal best throw of 62.35 metres. Both of those marks were good enough for the win on Saturday, and earn them automatic berths to NAIA Nationals.
In the women’s 800m, an event well-known within the UBC track community thanks to its 4x800m relay dominance in past years, Tamara Harris (New Westminster, B.C.) sneaked under the NAIA ‘A’ standard by running 2:13.09, giving her second place in the two-lap extended sprint.
In the women’s sprints, the only athlete to achieve standard in the shorter events on Saturday was Sarah Korpach (White Rock, B.C.) in the women’s 400m hurdles, running 63.29 seconds which was good enough for third place overall.
In a pair of events highlighted by former UBC athletes, Evan Dunfee tore up the track with a 18:57.06 clocking in the men’s 5,000m race-walk, giving the current 20km Canadian record holder the edge over fellow competitor and UBC athlete Ben Thorne (Kitimat, B.C.). With a time of 19:59.34, Thorne rounded out the UBC contingent that managed to surpass NAIA ‘A’ standards on Saturday afternoon.
The second of two events dominated by UBC alumni took place in the men’s high jump, where Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and former IAAF World Junior Champion Mike Mason opened up his outdoor season with a jump of 2.15 metres.
In other jumping events, rookie Oded Aminov (Richmond, B.C.) was four centimetres clear of the NAIA ‘B’ standard, thanks to a leap of 14.29 metres. It was just the rookie’s second competition as a Thunderbird, as he finished second overall in the event.
UBC took the top three spots in the men’s 800m, led by Ajax, Ont., native Lukas Jarron‘s 1:53.96 clocking, followed by San Francisco’s Cole Larsen (1:55.54) and Devin Rajala of North Vancouver (1:55.70). Though no standards were to be had, all three athletes are within three seconds of booking their way to Gulf Shores, Ala., in May.
In the men’s sprints, Stephen Abosi (Gaborone, Botswana) achieved a new personal best in the men’s 100m running a blistering time of 10.79 seconds, less than five-hundredths off the NAIA ‘B’ standard.
In multi-events action, both the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon continues into tomorrow which will conclude the opening meet of the season for the UBC Thunderbirds. Looking ahead, UBC hosts its second of three meets this season with the UBC Invitational on April 3.