VANCOUVER – Competing at home for the second time in as many weeks, the UBC Thunderbirds track and field team added 11 more NAIA standards at the UBC Invitational on Friday afternoon. The total ups the team tally to 23 standards across the first two meets of the season, including eight ‘A’ standard performances on Friday, despite the rainy conditions at the Rashpal Dhillon Oval.
After Good Friday’s UBC Invitational, the team now has a remarkable 23 NAIA standards after just two regular season competitions. That total includes 17 ‘A’ standards, most of which have come in the middle to long distance track events, which automatically qualifies athletes for the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.
Three NAIA standards were met in the women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase courtesy of Calgarian Maria Bernard (10:15.6), Victoria, B.C.’s Madelyn Brunt (11:15.8), and Anmore, B.C., native Brianna Cairns (11:22.9). The latter two earned their first NAIA Outdoor Championships qualifying marks as rookies. Bernard and Brunt’s times were ‘A’ standards while Cairns’ time was good enough for the ‘B’ standard. Bernard’s time was also an International University Sports Federation (FISU) Summer Universiade (World University Games) standard. The games are to be held July 3–14 in Gwangju, South Korea.
In the longest events contested on the track, all five T-Birds entered in the 10,000-metre races on Friday were successful in running national qualifying marks. On the women’s side, Amelie de Fenoyl (Toronto) nipped Bernard at the line, to win in a time of 35:12.98, two-tenths of a second ahead of her teammate. The performances are the top two times in the NAIA as of Friday, both of which are ‘A’ standards.
On the men’s side, Evan Elder (Christchurch, New Zealand) was the top Thunderbird in the 25-lap race, running a personal-best time of 30:47.34, followed by Will Cliff (Vancouver) in a time of 30:57.52, his first time under the 31-minute barrier. Both Elder and Cliff’s performances were under the NAIA ‘A’ standard while Jesse Hooton (North Vancouver) ran a ‘B’ standard thanks to a 31:13.15 clocking, the best time of his career.
In the men’s 800 metres, Lukas Jarron (Ajax, Ont.) improved his season best by four-hundredths of a second, running 1:53.92 on Friday en route to the win. In the women’s 1500m, Kirsten Lee (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) added her second ‘A’ performance of the season by running 4:38.75, good enough for a six-second victory in that event.
In the men’s 1500m, Justin Kent (Surrey, B.C.) and rookie Jeff Groh were the class of the field, running 3:53.00 and 3:56.22, respectively. Kent’s time was safely under the NAIA ‘A’ standard, while Groh was just under three-tenths clear of the ‘B’ standard, a stellar track debut for the Hummelstown, Pa., native.
Other event winners on Friday were Stephanie Dacre (Surrey, B.C.) in the women’s 800m (2:18.63), Damanpreet Rai (New Westminster, B.C.) in the long jump (5.28 metres), Michael Przystupa (Kirkland, Wash.) in the men’s 110m hurdles (15.69 seconds) and Julia Hawkins (Vancouver) in the triple jump (10.81 metres).
The Thunderbirds are back on the track next weekend competing at the Simon Fraser University Emilie Mondor Invitational on April 11 in Burnaby, B.C. That precedes the team, consisting of 21 athletes and three coaches, travelling to Walnut, Calif., for the Mt. SAC Relays, which will run April 15-18.