There can be no doubt that the University of Saskatchewan Huskies track & field program is the best in the west, after both the men and women claimed the conference banners at the Canada West Championships hosted in Edmonton, AB on Feb. 22-23.
The outstanding team performances from Saskatchewan marked the first team sweep of the conference hardware since the 2003-04 season, when the Huskies also won both titles.
“Pretty remarkable weekend,” said Huskies coach Jason Reindl, who went on to win the conference men’s and women’s coach of the year awards at a banquet after the meet. “Our women’s team is ranked No. 2 in the country, so they came in and executed as expected. But our men’s team had a huge weekend. The guys really stepped up and exceeded expectations, which is a tremendous testament to the student-athletes and coaches.”
Entering Day 2 with a comfortable 31-point advantage, the Huskie women consolidated their lead thanks to six medals on the final day of competition, three of which were gold.
Julianne Labach in the 600-metre, Courtney Hufsmith in the 1500-metre and the 4×200-metre relay team of Michelle Harrison, Ashlyn Mooney, Kendra Farmer and Mackenzi Kleiter provided the gold medals on the day.
For Labach, who also added silver in the 1500-metre as well as the 4×400-metre relay, the day capped off a weekend that saw the fifth-year law student claim two gold and two silver medals. That performance earned her the title of Canada West Female Track Athlete of the Year for the second conference meet in a row.
The 4×400-metre relay team of Kleiter, Farmer, Labach and Leadan Chartier captured silver and a bronze from Harrison in the 60-metre race rounded out the medals for the women’s squad.
The Huskie men had a tougher road to their title after holding only a three-point at the end of the first day, but ended up winning by a comfortable margin of 24 points.
Seven total medals, two gold, powered the Huskies to 145 total points, well clear of the Manitoba Bisons.
Johnston broke his own conference record in the heptathlon with 5102 points and that combined with the silver medal in he won in long jump on Friday earned him the honour of being named Canada West Male Field Athlete of the Year.
Degenhardt’s gold was just the beginning of a dominant Huskies’ performance in the shot put that also saw Tyrell Sawatzky win bronze.
“You talk about momentum changers,” said Reindl, “and right away I look at our shot put team that finished 1-3-4-6-7 and with 26 points. I mean they really took that event and ran with it. That was huge for us. And then Kieran is a defending national champion, his win in hurdles, his silver in long jump and gold and a new record in the heptathlon…I mean he was just awesome for us.”
Karson Lehner and Landon Gill finished second and third in the 60-metre race, Josh Websdale and Scott McKerracher likewise in the pole vault while Brendan Ritchie rounded out the medals with a bronze in the heptathlon.
Next up for the Huskies is a shot at national glory when they travel to Winnipeg for the U SPORTS National Championship tournament slated to take place March 7-9.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Saskatchewan, 160 points
2. Calgary, 145
3. Alberta, 86
4. Regina, 75
5. TWU, 67
6. Manitoba, 58
7. Lethbridge, 54
8. Victoria, 6
1. Saskatchewan, 145
2. Manitoba, 120.50
3. Alberta, 93
4. TWU, 92
5. Calgary, 77.50
6. Regina, 67
7. Lethbridge, 37
8. Victoria, 22
2019 Canada West Track & Field Award Winners
Women (Eleanor Haslam Trophy) – Saskatchewan
Men (R.E. DuWors Trophy) – Saskatchewan
*First team sweep since 2003-04
Rookie of the Year – Female
Joely Welburn, University of Regina
Gold in high jump (1.73m), silver in long jump (5.91m)
Rookie of the Year – Male
Kenny Blackman, Trinity Western University
Gold 60m (6.93s) & member of 4x200m Relay team (6th place)
Outstanding Student-Athlete Community Service Award – Women
Tegan Turner, University of Manitoba
Outstanding Student-Athlete Community Award – Men
Spencer Allen, University of Alberta
Coach of the Year – Women
Winner Jason Reindl, University of Saskatchewan
Coach of the Year – Men
Winner: Jason Reindl, University of Saskatchewan
Outstanding Performance of the Meet – Women
Sandy Latrace, University of Lethbridge
Gold in 60m in a time of 7.49 seconds.
Outstanding Performance of the Meet – Men
Austin Cole, University of Alberta
Gold in 300 m (33.44) and broke the longest standing Canada West Championship record
Athletes of the Year
Female Track Athlete of the year
Juliane Labach, University of Saskatchewan
Gold in 600m & 1000m and Silver in 1500m and 4x400m Relay
Male Track Athlete of the year
Austin Cole, University of Alberta
Triple Gold Medalist in 300m, 4x200m and 4x400m Relays and 6th in 60m
Female Field Athlete of the year
Niki Oudenaardn, University of Calgary
Gold Medals in Pentathalon & Shot Put and 5th Place finishes in High Jump & Long Jump
Male Field Athlete of the Year
Kieran Johnston, University of Saskatchewan
Gold in Heptathlon with Conference Record 5102 points and Silver medal in Long Jump
Day 2 Top-5 Huskie Results
W 600m – Julianne Labach (GOLD – 1:31.09)
M 600m – Jared Welsh (4th – 1:21.72)
W 60m – Michelle Harrison (BRONZE – 7.63)
W Weight Throw – Emmarae Dale (5th – 14.65m)