By Gabriel Rodrigues
On Jan. 3, Laurentian’s women’s indoor track team kicked off the 2015 season at the University of Toronto’s Sharon Anderson Open, and according to their coach, this competition was a “good start” to their OUA campaign.
“With our athletes spread all over the place during the holidays, it really showed how fit and dedicated they were in doing their workouts during exams and the holidays,” said Dick Moss.
Not only did the Voyageurs return home with five medals throughout the opening competition of the season, but managed to achieve four OUA qualifying performances within the 1500m race, eight personal bests and 11 top-six finishes.
The 1500m event turned out to be Laurentian’s strongest individual race, as Sudbury native Katie Wismer took home the gold with a personal best time of 4:42.87, breaking the OUA standard by 12 seconds.
Also, within that race, three other athletes qualified for the OUA’s, which includes Marissa Lobert, Michelle Kennedy and Emily Marcolini, who finished third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
The Voyageurs weren’t done there, as Laurentian’s Samantha Edwards, Marcolini, Kennedy and Wismer posted a first place finish within the 4 x 800m rally with a combined time of 10:08.
Laurentian pentathlete Alicia Violin posted a personal best in the shot put, finishing first with a result of 9.58m, and also second in the high jump, fourth in the long jump and fifth 60m hurdles.
Despite some Laurentian athletes missing out on medals, Moss believes personal best performances are “the name of the game” for his team, as eight Voyageurs athletes all posted their personal bests at the Sharon Anderson Open, which includes Wismer (1500m), Violin (shot put), Kennedy (1500m), Marcolini (1500m), Jenna Thornber (1000m), Nicole Rich (300m and 600m), Lyndsay Greasley (1500m) and Maddy Bak (1500m).
“The goal is to keep improving throughout the season and hit our peak at the OUA Championships,” said Moss. “Every runner has individual goals they want to achieve, and it’s different for every athlete.”
The Voyageurs will be competing in four other invitational meets before the OUA Championships in late February, which includes the Fred Foot Classic on Jan. 17, York Open on Jan. 31, Valentine Invitational held in Boston, MA on Feb. 13 and the Hal Brown Last Chance on Feb. 20.
With already four athletes qualifying for the OUA’s in the 1500m, Moss hopes to have as many competitors qualify for the Championships with the next upcoming events.
“The next two meets at the University of Toronto and York help the girls calibrate their optimal race paces and are a good lead-up to the Valentine Invitational in Boston,” said Moss. “The Valentine is on a fast track in an exciting atmosphere and that’s where we hit a lot of qualifying times.”
Moss expects to compete within every invitational tournament leading up to the OUA Championships, and said he doesn’t leave out the possibility of having athletes qualify for the CIS Championships either.
“On an individual basis, it’s very difficult to qualify for nationals,” said Moss. “The standards get faster every year and very few qualify. We’ve had athletes very close in several events over the past five years and it often comes down to fractions of a second. This year, we’ll just keep working hard and see what happens.”
The Voyageurs next test in order to gain OUA qualification spots will be the Fred Foot Invitational at the University of Toronto on Saturday, Jan.17.