LANGLEY, British Columbia – On paper, this year’s Trinity Western men’s track and field team is the best group the program has ever assembled. With all but one athlete returning from last year’s squad, expectations for this year’s team are as high as they’ve ever been and there’s reason to believe the 2016 Spartans can make a legitimate run at both the conference and national championships.
After finishing third at the Canada West championships and a program-best seventh at the national championships last year, the team returns a lineup that is stronger than ever before. With all 11 of its medal-winning athletes from last year’s Canada West championships returning, the team has a veteran core that is as good as anyone in the conference and one that has the pieces to compete with the best in the country.
The team opens its season this Saturday when it competes in the University of Washington’s Indoor Preview in Seattle.
TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
2015 Canada West Result: 2nd
2015 CIS Result: 7th
Last CW Title/Total CW Titles: NA/0
Last CIS Title/Total CIS Titles: NA/0
Number of New Athletes: 7
Key Recruits: Deon Clifford (middle distance), Nick Colyn (middle distance), Chris Weiss (triple jump, pole vault)
Number of Departing Athletes: 1
Key Losses: Mihai Prajea (middle distance)
· With Mihai Prajea the lone graduate from last year’s roster, this year’s team is, without a doubt, the best men’s track and field team TWU has ever produced. Expectations are high. Now they have to deliver.
· Last year, the team finished seventh overall with 41 points at the national championships, but were a mere three points behind fourth-place finishing Laval. With that being said, breaking into the top five in the CIS shouldn’t be a problem this year. The tall task will be moving into the top three and challenging the likes of Windsor (101 points last year), Guelph (92) and York (73).
· The Spartans men’s team is still in search of its first ever individual CIS gold medal. Over the years, TWU has earned five silver medals and four bronze medals, but have yet to stand atop the podium. This year, the likes of Nathan George (300m), Calum Innes (60m Hurdles), Nathan Dunford (Pole Vault), Declan White (3000m), James Linde (Long Jump) and the 4x200m team are all viable challengers to become the first.
· With another year of experience, look for the likes of Joel De Schiffart (CW bronze in the 3000m and 7th in the 1500m in 2015), Cale Hernandez (CW bronze in the pentathlon in 2015) and Nick Ayin (6th in the 60m at the CW championships in 2015) to climb the conference and, potentially, national ladder this year.
· Now in his fifth year, the oft-injured Blair Johnston returned to form in the cross country season. At the cross country national championships, he was knocked over early in the race and fell to the back of the pack before valiantly finishing 60th. However, if he can translate his early-season cross country success onto the track, TWU will have yet another valuable piece to play this spring.
· Since rejoining the CIS for the 2011 season, the track and field team has continually been on the rise. After being held without a point in its first year at the national championships, the team finished 15th in 2012, 17th in 2013, 11th in 2014 and seventh in 2015.
· At the Canada West championships, TWU finished eighth in both 2011 and 2012, before climbing the standings to finish sixth in 2013 and third in both 2014 and 2015.