UBC 4×800 teams run NAIA bests at Emilie Mondor Invitational


BURNABY, B.C. – The relay teams highlighted the top performances from the UBC Thunderbirds track and field squad on Saturday at the Emilie Mondor Invitational at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. Both the men and women’s 4×800-metre relay teams ran NAIA automatic qualifying marks, thanks to times that put UBC atop the NAIA in the middle-distance relay events.
The UBC women’s 4x800m relay team was able to book its ticket to nationals on Saturday afternoon, running 9:15.41, which was 13 seconds clear of the NAIA ‘A’ standard in that event. The Thunderbirds have won two consecutive NAIA outdoor track and field titles in the 3200m relay discipline. Saturday’s foursome featured Tamara Harris (New Westminster, B.C.), Stephanie Dacre (Surrey, B.C.), Natalia Hawthorn (Bracebridge, Ont.) and Devan Wiebe (Vancouver) and marks the best time in the NAIA this season as of Saturday afternoon.
The UBC men’s 4x800m relay joined the women in attaining the NAIA ‘A’ standard on Saturday, despite being the lone team in the race. The team was five seconds clear of the national qualifying standard running 7:40.38, also good for the top NAIA time this season. The T-Birds squad ran 7:31.55 at the 2014 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships en route to the silver medal, with Lukas Jarron (Ajax, Ont.) and Justin Kent (Surrey, B.C.) being the common denominators between the two instances. Cole Larsen (San Francisco) and Devin Rajala (North Vancouver, B.C.) were the other two relay athletes on Saturday that helped secure the team its spot on the start line come May.
The distance relay teams were just two of six UBC relay squads that competed Saturday as the men and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m teams all made their mark on Burnaby Mountain. The women ran 49.36 seconds and 4:01.08 in each of the two events while the men ran 43.26 seconds and 3:25.48, respectively. 
In the rarely contested women’s 2000m steeplechase, Nicole Lacis (White Rock, B.C.) won in a time of 7:32.10 and joined a number of other UBC event winners on Saturday. In the sprints, Mark Coles (Calgary) nipped his closest rival by one-hundredth of a second en route to a 22.87 clocking in the men’s 200m.
In the field events, Mackenzie Koopmans (Barrie, Ont.) won the men’s javelin with a toss of 44.90 metres while Christine Ausman (Ottawa) won the women’s javelin thanks to a throw of 42.48 metres.
In the women’s 1500m, former UBC T-Bird Rhiannon Evans ran a lifetime best and meet record thanks to a clocking of 4:29.70, en route to the victory in a field that included 2012 Canadian Olympian Jessica Smith. Evans now runs for the Vancouver Thunderbirds after completing her four years of eligibility at UBC last spring. 
Saturday marks the first of two trips to Burnaby Mountain and Simon Fraser University for the T-Birds this season, with the second being the annual Achilles Cup Dual Meet on April 24. Next week, UBC travels to Los Angeles for three competitions spanning three days including the Mt. SAC Relays, Bryan Clay Invitational, and the Beach Invitational.