Ottawa sprints to success in New York City

It was big lights, fast city for the group of Ottawa athletes who headed to the Big Apple over the weekend to compete at the Amory Invitational. The competition, one the most well attended south of the border, featured many top flight track and field programs.

It was a breakthrough meet for hurdlers Sekou Kaba and Karelle Edwards as both athletes posted lifetime bests on the way to earning top five finishes. Both athletes cruised through the opening round before setting personal bests in the semi-finals on Friday afternoon.

For Kaba, it was a return to form that saw him claim CIS gold last March as the University of Ottawa graduate sped to a time of 7.77 seconds in the semi-final to qualify second to Saturday’s final. The time currently ranks Kaba second best in Canada. In the final, he finished fifth in the third fastest time of his life – 7.82 seconds.

In Karelle Edwards’ semi-final, she sped her way to a time of 8.40 seconds to qualify seventh to the final and move her to third in the Canadian rankings. She would equal her previous best of 8.44 seconds en-route to finishing fourth.

Also excelling on the sprint straightaway was Farah Jacques who finished sixth in the women’s 60m final with a time of 7.55 seconds. Jacques qualified for the final with a time 7.49 to equal her personal best set the week before in Montreal. The Gatineau native also finished 15th in the 400m in 56.26 seconds.

In the men’s 400m, Michael Robertson was the top Ottawa finisher, crossing the line in 48.17 seconds to finish 5th.

Two other noteworthy performances came from University of Ottawa relay teams. In the women’s 4x200m, the team of Charifa Labarang, Devyani Biswal, Gift Okankwu and Charlotte Gardner took more than half a second off the previous standard, finishing 11th in 1:41.81. The school record had previously been set in 2009 at the OUA Championships.

Demonstrating some range, Gardner would lead off the 4x800m relay team to the third fastest time in school history. Joined by Chelsea Gillies, Anais Leroy and Isabelle Kanz, the quartet completed the 3200m race in 9 minutes 7. 17 seconds. The time has only been bettered by the team of Emilie Halle, Julia Tousaw, Jennie Biewald and Jacqueline Malette on their way to OUA and CIS silvers.

Back in Ontario, Ashley Connell set a new lifetime best in the shot put with a throw of 14.16m to finish fourth at the York Open. Connell, a sophmore at the University of Guelph, is currently ranked third in the CIS.

The Lions return to action this Friday and Saturday as they host the University of Ottawa Winter Invitational. Competition starts Friday night at 6pm with the start of the pentathlon.