Day 1: Canada West championship
by Matt Gutsch, U of Alberta Sports Information
EDMONTON - The province of Saskatchewan fared well at the opening day of the Canada West track and field championship, as the University of Saskatchewan Huskies lead the women's table, while the Regina Cougars are atop the men's standings.
Day 2 of the conference championship commences Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. MST, and concludes at 4:00 p.m. with the men's 4x400m relay. The championship banquet, where Canada West individual major awards will be handed out, begins at 6:00 p.m.
The Huskies, ranked No. 3 in the nation, came into Edmonton as the defending women's champions, while also having won five of the last 10 CIS titles. They currently boast 68 points to sit in first, while the host Alberta Pandas sit in second with 56 points. The Manitoba Bisons are in third with 31 points, and are followed by Calgary, Victoria, Regina and Lethbridge.
Regina, ranked No. 7 on the CIS scene, lead the men's table with 46 points, just a single point above the Saskatchewan Huskies, who are nationally ranked No. 4. Calgary is in third with 39 points, followed by Manitoba, who are the two-time defending men's champions, with 22 points. The Victoria Vikes, Alberta Golden Bears and Lethbridge Pronghorns round out the bottom three.
Saskatchewan's Chris Crossley was the big winner on the day, as he collected first place finishes in the men's pentathlon and long jump. He finished in the top two of every pent event and also added a second place finish in the men's 60m hurdles. Evan Neufeldt finished in third place in the pent, adding four more points to the Saskatchewan totals.
The Regina Cougars vaulted into top spot thanks to having two athletes, Jeremy Eckert, and Justin Baker finish within the top four of the men's pent, while Chris Pickering picked up points by finishing fourth in the weight throw. Kelly Wiebe added to those totals when he crossed the line in first for the 3000m race, and three Cougars earned points in the 60m hurdles. Regina also put two athletes on the long-jump podium with silver and bronze finishes.
As predicted, Calgary's Sam Effah ran away with the 300m dash with a time of 33.60, a full second faster than second place finisher Kyle Murray of Lethbridge.
The Victoria Vikes' men's 4x800m relay team was crowned Canada West champion for the fifth-straight year, as they finished ahead of the Dino team and the Alberta Golden Bears in third.
Manitoba's Garth Suppes found gold in the weight throw event.
On the women's side, the Alberta Pandas, ranked No.6 coming into the event, got strong results in the women's pent, taking the first and second place spots. Fifth-year Amanda Schneck claimed the gold, while teammate Leanne Hildebrandt picked up the silver. Lindsay Acheson claimed silver in the 3000m race, and Alberta's 4x800m relay team also picked up silver.
Panda Kathryn McCaffrey claimed the gold in the 60m hurdles, while teammate Courtney Wilkes finished with bronze. They both added a top four finish in the long jump, further helping Alberta's cause. Panda Erica Rutley finished third in the pole vault, while surprisingly, two-time CIS pole vault medalist Lindsay Bergevin finished in eighth.
But, it was a powerful and deep Saskatchewan side that dominated the women's day.
The Huskies received points from one or more athletes in nine events, and they had top five finishes in the pent, shot put, 60m hurdles and the 1000m run. Saskatchewan's 4x800m relay team took the gold, as did Kailey Smith in the 3000m, Taryn Suttie in the shot put, and Leah Vause in the pole vault. They also scored the third, fifth and seventh place finishes in the pentathlon.
Day 2 begins Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with the women's weight throw final.