Smith helps Canada to gold in Colombia

It may not have been like any cross country meet she’s run in Canada, but 17 year old Claire Smith performed well in the inaugural Panamerican Cross Country Championships Saturday in Barranquilla, Colombia. The grade 12 student completed the 5km course of sand, grass and brush in 17 minutes 36 seconds to  finish 16th out of 48 competitors in the junior race. While temperatures hovered above 30 degrees Celsius, the Canadian team held strong, winning the team title with a stingy 24 points, narrowly edging out the Americans who were second with 27.

Back in Canada, efforts were split between the AC Indoor Open in Montreal,the Ontario Masters Championships in Toronto and the OUA/CIS Last Chance Meet being held at the Dome here in Ottawa.

In Montreal, the story of the weekend for the club was undoubtedly grade nine student Lauren Gale who won double gold in the youth girls 200m and 400m. Lauren opened things up with victory in the 400m on Saturday, besting the field by nearly two seconds to win in 56.80. The time now ranks as the second fastest by a youth aged runner in Canada this year. Gale managed to improve on Saturday’s performance, winning the 200m in a personal best time of 25.22 seconds to take over the top spot in this year’s national rankings.

Also taking home gold in Montreal was grade 10 student Shona McCulloch, as she captured the junior women’s 3000m title quite handily Saturday night in 9:52.19. She was joined on the podium by teammate Alexa Livingstone who was third in 10:31.83. Livingstone also captured a bronze in the 1500m on Friday night. Farah Abdul-Karim front ran the junior men’s 3000m to take home gold in 8 minutes 59.68 seconds.

Other medalists from the championship included hurdlers Keira Christie-Galloway (silver – youth girls) and Karelle Edwards (bronze – open women) as well as Oluwasegun Makinde (bronze – men’s 400m) and Jeremie Venne (silver – men’s 800m).

At the provincial masters championships, club athletes garnered seven medals, including three gold. The team was lead by world champion sprinter Wendy Alexis who swept the women’s 55 60m and 200m sprints with times of 8.70 and 30.12 seconds respectively. The other gold came from Robert Muir who won the men’s 45 1500m in 4 minutes 17.59 seconds.

In Ottawa, it was all about the field events where two University of Ottawa Gee-Gee records were broken as well as one Dome record. Gee-Gee pole vaulter Felicite Kokron kicked things off with a 3.46m clearance to take sole claim of the school record. Earlier this season, Kokron had equalled the previous standard of 3.45m set by Melinda Rock in 2012. The other Gee-Gee record came from Corey Wingate, who added nearly a full meter to the school’s best in the weight throw with his toss of 14.54m. Decathlete Patrick Arbour had set the previous mark of 13.55m in 2007. Also making a mark in the weight throw was Tanya Coulter, who extended her own Youth Dome record to 13.78m – an almost full meter improvement.

Lions return to action next weekend at the OUA Championships at York University while the last home meet of the season is scheduled for two weeks time, on Saturday, March 7.