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Huskies women’s track wins third CanWest title in four years, set for CIS title

By in Sports & Health
Two of Sharai Siemens’ golds came in the 4x200- and 4x400-metre relays.
Sharai Siemens led the way as the Huskies women’s track and field team topped the Canada West podium last weekend at the Saskatoon Field House.

It was the third time in the last four years that the University of Saskatchewan women’s squad has won the championship — they took the title in 2009 and 2010 but finished third last season.

Their 111 points easily beat out the second-place Calgary Dinos’ 80 points as well as the third-place Alberta Pandas’ 79.

Siemens, who was awarded the Canada West female track athlete of the year award following the meet, led all competitors with three gold medals and one silver. Two of her first-place finishes came in the relay events as she helped the Huskies take the 4×200-metre and 4×400-metre races. She earned silver in the 600-metre run.

The third gold medal came with a strong 39.31-second run in the 300-metre dash — an event in which the gold medal has eluded her in her last two championships.

“I wanted to finish with a bang in my last year with the Huskies,” said Siemens. “In three years as a Huskie, I’ve only had silver in the 300. It was nice to actually get gold.”

Siemens, who is only in her fourth year of Canadian Interuniversity Sport eligibility but who will finish school this spring, said that this will likely be her last year competing.

“I want to end on a high note.”

Fourth-year Huskie Karla Johnson-Gabruch also won multiple gold medals for Saskatchewan. She topped both the weight throw and shot put events with throws of 16.48 and 13.12 metres, respectively.

It was her first time at the Canada West championship in 11 years.

Johnson-Gabruch was the 2001 CIS gold medalist in the weight throw and was named the Huskies female athlete of the year that season. She stopped competing because the university’s track and field team lacked a coach for its throwing athletes.

“I couldn’t do any better than that season in 2001. I was undefeated,” said Johnson-Gabruch. “There was nothing I could do to improve on that and I didn’t have a throwing coach. I quit out of frustration.”

She rejoined the team this season both to rekindle her love for the sport and to finish her English degree.

“I tried other activities. I tried rowing. I tried martial arts. I tried a lot of different stuff but there was nothing that hit me in the same spot” that track had, said Johnson-Gabruch. “I thought, ‘I’ve been meaning to finish my education. I might as well. I’m not getting any younger.’ ”

Johnson-Gabruch’s 2001 Huskies were the national champions and she believes that this year’s team also has what it takes to win the CIS title.

“This team reminds me a lot of our championship team from 2001,” she said. “These girls are amazing. They have good hearts and good minds. I’m really proud to be on the team.”

Lane Britnell at the track and field Canada West Track & Field Championship, Feb. 25.
Other Huskies women who won gold medals were Jodi Souter in the 3,000-metre run and Siemens’ teammates in the relays — Morgan Sawatsky, Katrin Ritchie and Veronika Smits in the 4×200-metre and Elecktra Charles, Amanda Banks and Ritchie in the 4×400-metre.

The fifth-year Souter, who also won a silver medal in the 1,500-metre run, was given the Canada West’s female Student Athlete Community Award following the championship. She has not only received several scholarships throughout her years as an agriculture student at the university, but also volunteers at the Canadian Cancer Society, on the Huskies’ Athletic Council and as a motivational speaker with the Go Girl program.

Saskatchewan’s head coach Joanne McTaggart was named women’s coach of the year.

On the men’s side, Saskatchewan finished in fourth with 66.5 points. The Calgary Dinos, the Regina Cougars and the Victoria Vikes topped the podium at first, second and third, respectively.

Pentathlon competitor Keegan Sharp, triple-jumper Cossy Nachilobe, pole-vaulter Lane Britnell and high-jumper Lincoln Crooks were the Huskies men who won gold.

Saskatchewan’s men’s and women’s track and field teams will head to the University of Manitoba March 8 to 10 where they will try to capture their first CIS titles since 2005.

Photos: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf

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