LANGLEY, British Columbia – The two-time defending Canada West champion Trinity Western women’s track and field team will have a distinctly new look this year, as the team enters the 2016 season with a revamped roster, yet one still loaded with plenty of promise.
After a record-breaking season last year in which TWU finished a program-best second at the national championships and won its second consecutive conference title, the Spartans come into 2016 with a largely altered roster.
The Spartans have lost 15 athletes from last year’s team and, of the eight athletes who won CIS medals last year, including relays, only two – Rachel Shuttleworth (4x400m bronze) and Meg Harradine (4x800m bronze) – are back to compete in 2016. With Fiona Benson, Claudette Allen, Sabrina Nettey and Sarah Inglis – who combined to win all five of TWU’s individual CIS medals last year – graduating, the Spartans have plenty of work to do if they are to maintain their recent results.
Fortunately for the Spartans, there is plenty of talent that has been injected into this year’s group and, with the improvement of their returning core, this year’s team will still have vast potential to make some serious noise at both the conference and national championships.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS
MEN’S TRACK & FIELD
2015 Canada West Result: 1st
2015 CIS Result: 2nd
Last CW Title/Total CW Titles: 2015/2
Last CIS Title/Total CIS Titles: NA/0
Number of New Athletes: 7
Key Recruits: Lisa Brooking (middle distance), Mirelle Martens (middle distance), Sophie Pauls (pentathlon), Kirsten Webber (pole vault)
Number of Departing Athletes: 15
Key Losses: Claudette Allen (long jump), Fiona Benson (middle distance), Sarah Inglis (middle distance), Sabrina Nettey (middle distance), Anastasia Pearse (400m hurdles)
· While the losses of last year’s CIS medal-winning athletes will be felt, the addition of the likes of Kirsten Webber, Mirelle Martens, Lisa Brooking and Sophie Pauls will help keep the Spartans very much in the mix.
· Webber will be one to watch this year as the first-year vaulter has a personal best of 4.06m. By comparison, last year’s Canada West title was won with a clearance of 3.78m and a vault of 3.91m took the CIS silver medal.
· While Webber may be TWU’s front-runner in the pole vault pits, the second-year duo of Maddy Evans and Emma Li round out what is an imposing vaulting trio.
· Mirelle Martens and Lisa Brooking will make a significant impact in helping TWU overcome the losses of Benson and Inglis. Martens, who transferred from Grande Prairie Regional College this year, was 11th at the CIS cross country championships in the fall, while Brooking, who competed for Windsor in both cross country and track in the late 2000s, was seventh. Both will be expected to help lead the Spartans middle distance team.
· If high jumper Emma Nuttall is able to return from injury for her final year of CIS competition, she will immediately elevate the Spartans chances for team success. Nuttall is a three-time CIS medallist (gold in 2012 and 2014 and silver in 2013) and a three-time Canada West gold medallist (2013, 2014 and 2015)
· Hurdler Hazel Ross is looking to break through and deliver a podium finish at the national championships. Ross is a two-time Canada West medallist in the 60m hurdles, but an individual medal has so far evaded her at the national level, having finished sixth last year, fourth in 2014 and seventh in 2013.
· Look for veterans like Regan Yee, who was sixth in the 3000m at the CIS championships and Rachel Shuttleworth, who helped TWU’s 4x200m team to a fifth place finish at nationals last year, to also play a large role in this year’s Spartans success.