The Huskies women’s track and field team retained their Canada West Championship for the third consecutive time, while the men’s team clinched second place.
The Huskies welcomed the challenge of defending their titles on home turf as they hosted the Canada West Championship on Feb. 21 and 22 at the Saskatoon Field House. Strong overall performances from all areas resulted in the Huskies tallying up 20 medals.
“We have the saying ‘teams on paper don’t win championships.’ You don’t cash anything in until it’s all said and done,” said Jason Reindl, Huskies track and field head coach.
“While we were ranked first and second, we were also the defending champions for both [the men and women’s teams]. We knew that Calgary and other schools in the conference had their eyes on us.”
Entering the championships, the Huskies women were placed first overall in the Canada West rankings and looked to extend their four-point lead over the Calgary Dinos. The men, on the other hand, looked to close the 13.75 point gap over the top-seeded Dinos.
The number one ranked women’s 60-metre hurdler in the nation, Michelle Harrison, had high expectations leading into the championships, as she aspires to join the Canadian Olympic team for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. And Harrison didn’t disappoint, as she extended the women’s points tally by setting a new Canada West record of 8.21 seconds in the hurdles, bettering the previous record of 8.24 seconds.
“To be able to run consistently faster and faster and get closer to my goals is extremely rewarding,” Harrison said. “My goal is to make it to the Olympics this summer.”
Harrison also qualified for the 60-metre sprint and guided the Huskie women’s 200-metre relay team to a new Canada West record alongside Ashlyn Mooney, Leadan Chartier and Kendra Farmer.
The women’s team was able to extend their four-point lead to 14.5 points, earning a total of 142.5 points to retain their title over the Calgary Dinos. Meanwhile, the men’s team was unable to close their gap over the Dinos and finished second place, trailing by 10-points.
“Absolutely outstanding as a team. They all raised each other up and supported each other,” said Reindl, who was awarded women’s coach of year. “We fell a little short on the men’s side but from our projections, Calgary was supposed to beat us by quite a lot. For us to keep it as close as we did — we’re very happy with the accomplishment.”
The men’s charge was led by third-year Huskie Karson Lehner, who is the top ranked 300-metre runner in the nation. He improved on his second place finish at Canada West from last year by setting a new record of 33.07 seconds, beating the previous record of 33.44 to secure the gold.
Lehner etched his name into the Huskie and Canada West records by bettering the 300-metre record set by Huskie alumnus Cyprian Enweani. The goal to beat Enweani’s long-standing record time was meaningful for Lehner as Enweani went on to compete in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.
“Cyprian Enweani was a fantastic athlete,” said Lehner. “It’s a great goal to aim for and luckily to achieve it here, with the help of great coaching and awesome training partners, is amazing.“
From this meet, seven Huskie athletes qualified for nationals and will join those who have already qualified earlier this season. For those Huskies that qualified for the 2020 U SPORTS championships, they will travel to Edmonton over the March 6-9 weekend.
Photo: Supplied | GetMyPhoto.ca/HuskieAthletics