Lions Shine on Championship Weekend

It was championship weekend Thursday thru Saturday and Ottawa Lions athletes certainly rose to the occasion, bringing home a combined eight medals from both the CIS and NCAA championships.

At the CIS championships in Edmonton, Emma Galbraith put forth a performance that left no one doubting her CIS Rookie of the Year distinction that was handed out Thursday morning. The slender superstar from Merrickville kicked things off by claiming gold in the 1000m on Friday night in 2:52.09, as she seemed to control the race almost from the gun. It was a different story, however, in the 1500m final. Galbraith took the lead in the third lap and looked comfortable and didn’t relinquish it until the final 200m when OUA champion Andrea Seccafien made her move into the lead. With 75 meters to go, Emma found another gear and used her longer legs to eat into Seccafien’s lead before using one final dip at the line to regain her lead and win her second gold medal of the championship. When the time finally flashed on the scoreboard you could see just how close things got with Emma winning by just 0.01 seconds, 4:26.32 to Seccafien’s 4:26.33.

The only other Gee-Gee to win individual gold was third year sprinter Devin Biocchi, who showed his OUA victory was no fluke on Friday night. Running from an outside lane again, Biocchi looked calm and relaxed as he blindly sprinted away from the field to win gold in 34.11 seconds. The time was also a new lifetime best on a 200m track for the Orleans native. Biocchi’s teammates, Oluwasegun Makinde and Michael Robertson almost made it a clean sweep of the podium, finishing second and fourth respectively. For Makinde, it was his second individual medal of the meet after finishing third in Thursday night’s 60m final.

On Saturday, Biocchi, Makinde and Robertson teamed up with sprint hurdler Gabriel Tesfaye to reclaim the 4x200m gold the team had won a year ago in Winnipeg. In the 4x400m final Oluwasegun Makinde was replaced by his younger brother, Toluwalope, as the team defended that title as well with a 3:17.10 clocking.

At the NCAA Division I Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 800m specialist Samantha Murphy continued to do what she has done all year long – run faster than she ever has before. The Perth native ran an impressive 2:03.95 in the 800m final to finish fourth and garner All-American honours. Saturday’s time was just the most recent life time best in a season that has seen Murphy improve by nearly five seconds.

In Naperville, Illinois, at the NCAA Division III Championships, triple jumper Divya Biswal bounded out to 11.92m on her fifth attempt to win her first NCAA silver medal as well as her first All-American distinction. Biswal has carried the success from last summer’s outdoor campaign back indoors this season as she raised the St. Lawrence University triple jump record on multiple occasions and also set a new personal best last weekend at the ECAC championships in New York City.

Both Murphy and Biswal will commence their outdoor seasons over the next couple weeks as the NCAA begins their outdoor campaign. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Lions are scheduled to open their outdoor campaign at the Cornell Springtime Invitational in Ithaca, NY on April 6 and 7.