Men's relay team finds silver lining at CIS track championships

The McGill men's track and field team captured silver in the 4x400m relay, Sunday, at the CIS championships, held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It was the only medal won by McGill over the three-day meet and helped the Redmen finish 12th of 22 teams overall.
Photo: Derek Drummond
Photo: Derek Drummond

By Earl Zukerman

EDMONTON – The McGill men’s track and field team captured silver in the 4x400m relay, Sunday, at the CIS championships, held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

It was the only medal won by McGill over the three-day meet and helped the Redmen finish 12th of 22 teams overall. On the women’s side, the Martlets finished a disappointing 20th.

The fousome, which completed the race in three minutes and 17.83 seconds, was composed of leadoff runner Alexander Steinbrenner, a senior from Montreal, senior Eric Ellemo of Hudson, Que., sophomore Vincent Parent-Pichette of St. Paul de Joliette, Que., and anchor Javier Montalvo, a sophomore from Closter, N.J. It erased the previous mark of 3:21.03 set 14 years ago in the 2000 winter season.

All four members of the relay squad automatically merit second-team all-Canadian status, which goes to each silver medallist.

The York Lions won their first CIS men’s track and field title in 30 years, while the Guelph University Gryphons claimed their first women’s banner since the 2008 season, as the OUA swept the team championship trophies.

York finished with 103 total points to claim their first CIS track and field banner since 1984. Guelph, the 2013 CIS men’s champions, finished second with 97 points while the Windsor Lancers earned CIS team bronze with 81 points. The Lions now have three men’s team titles in program history, following back-to-back wins in the 1983 and 1984 seasons. York coach Colin Inglis was honoured with the Bob Boucher Award as men’s coach of the year at a banquet following the championship.

With 96 points, the Guelph Gryphons claim their second women’s team title in program history, after winning their inaugural championship following the 2007-08 season. The Toronto Varsity Blues finished second with 93, while the Canada West champions from Trinity Western finished third with 64 points.

“It was a great weekend, right from Day 1 to Day 3,” said Guelph coach Dave Scott-Thomas, who was named the Sue Wise Award winner as the women’s coach of the year. “Even though the final team standings came down to the results of the 4x400m, which is great because it’s an exciting event, we had done the math and knew that if we performed well in that event, we would win the title. I really thought that right from Day 1 our depth really carried us through. We had someone competing in every event, and for the most part we scored points in those events. Everyone on our team really contributed to this victory, which really validates the work these athletes put into the season.”

The York Lions also swept the male and female outstanding athletes of the meet awards, with Dontae Richards-Kwok earning the George Gemer Award, as the outstanding male athlete of the meet, for the second time of his career, while Khamica Bingham received the female outstanding athlete of the meet award.

Richards-Kwok placed on the top of the podium four times in Edmonton, winning the 60m and 300m individual races, and helping the Lions to gold medals in the 4x200m and 4x400m relays. Bingham earned gold medals in the 60m dash, 300m run and the 4x200m relay event, and broke a CIS championship record when she wrote her name in the record book with a time of 7.26 in the 60m dash.

“I’m happy I was able to finish my career at York with a team title,” said Richards-Kwok, who won the George Gemer Award in 2012 as well. “I was able to take the team on my back a little bit in my final year and help lift us to the team championship. In years past, we’ve watched other teams get up there and hold that banner and trophy, and we wanted this year. It came down to that last race, the 4×400, and I knew if I got the baton at the right time, I could do what I needed to do to help us get that title.”

Also sharing the spotlight on Saturday was Trinity’s Emma Nuttall, as she broke the CIS championship meet record in the high jump, with a leap of 1.88m. The previous record of 1.87m was set by UBC’s Tammy Lutz in 1986.

“It was such a relief,” exclaimed Nuttall, who hails from Scotland. “I knew I had that jump in me. I really wanted to come in here this weekend, win gold and set the record. I wanted it at the Canada West championships, but it wasn’t meant to be then. It was a wee bit nerve-wracking, but once I got the support of the crowd tonight, I really fed off that energy, and I knew I could make the jump.”

Four records fell during the three day championships, including Nuttall in the high jump, Bingham in the 60m and Ottawa’s Sekou Kaba, who broke the 30-year old record in the men’s 60m hurdles.

The Lions ruled inside the Universiade Pavilion at the U of A on Day 3, taking home gold medals in the men’s and women’s 4x200m relay events, the men’s 4x400m relay, men’s pole vault and men’s shot put, while also earning bronze in the men’s shot put.

Other gold medalists on the final day of competition included Lethbridge’s Aaron Hernandez, the 2014 CIS male rookie of the year, in the triple jump, Western’s Caroline Ehrhardt in the women’s triple jump, Rachel Francois and Brendan Restall of Victoria in the men’s and women’s 600m, Trinity Western’s Sarah Inglis in the women’s 1,500m, Laval’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutout in the men’s1,500m and Toronto’s 4x400m women’s relay team.

Complete results can be found on the Championship website