By Earl Zukerman
Seven Olympians have confirmed their participation for the 19th annual McGill Team Challenge track and field meet, Jan. 24-25. The two-day competition, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Richard Tomlinson Fieldhouse, will feature about 900 athletes and is annually the largest indoor track meet in Canada.
The event is also expected to draw a record 30 university teams this year – surpassing the previous mark of 27 – all hoping to reach qualifying standards for the CIS national championships in Edmonton, March 6-8.
Olympians competing include Luguelin Santos, Jenna Martin, Daundre Barnaby, Sarah Wells, Melissa Bishop, Taylor Milne and Hank Palmer.
Santos, a native of the Dominican Republic who will compete in the 300m and 600m this weekend, won silver in the 400m at the 2012 London Olympics. Others from the London Games – each of them Canadians – include Martin (300m), who hails from Liverpool, N.S., Barnaby (300m, 600m) of Brampton, Ont., Wells (300m) from Unionville, Ont., and Bishop (800m) of Eganville, Ont.
Milne (3000m) of Callender, Ont., and Palmer (60m) from Montreal, both competed at the Beijing Games in 2008. Other nationally-carded athletes competing will be Karine Belleau-Béliveau (800m) of Montreal and Kimberley Hyacinthe (60m, 300m) of Terrebonne, Que.
“It is without a doubt the Canadian flagship meet for the indoor season and gives us the opportunity to see what the top teams have in the way of talent as we prepare for Nationals,” says Dennis Barrett, in his 29th year as head coach at McGill. “It is shaping up to be a top-notch meet, based upon the entries that we have received. The field will be strong and it will feature some national level competitors as well as an international flavour. This meet offers a very competitive opportunity for athletes to qualify for the CIS championships.”
The event will attract 10 participating universities from the Ontario (OUA) conference, eight from the RSEQ in Quebec, six from the Atlantic (AUS) region, five from the Canada West conference and one from the NCAA.
The highest profile races this weekend will be the men’s 60m, 300m, 600m and 3000m, along with the women’s 60m, 300m and 800m.
Friday’s schedule, which runs from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., begins with the weight throw, followed by the high jump, long jump, weight throw, pole vault and shot put.
The women’s 60m dash begins at 6:50 p.m. where everyone will be chasing both the meet record (7.39 seconds) and the Fieldhouse record (7.35). The men’s 60m is slated for 6:55 p.m., and the marks to aim for are 6.75 (meet) and the 6.56 (Fieldhouse).
Other first-day events include the 1000m, 3000m, 4x200m relay, 300m, 800m and 4x800m.
The Saturday schedule begins with heats at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude by 6 p.m. The 60m hurdles final is slated for 10 a.m., followed by the 600m, 300m, 1500m, 4x400m relay, 800m and the 4x400m relay.
The McGill roster features 71 athletes from across Canada and nine from the U.S., plus one apiece from France and South Korea. The breakdown of Canadians has 23 from Ontario and 22 from Quebec, plus five from B.C., four apiece from Alberta and Nova Scotia, in addition to two from Manitoba.
One of the top McGill male athletes to watch is Maxime Beaumont-Courteau, a fifth-year medical student from Montreal, who will be looking to qualify for Nationals, as well as breaking the school pole-vault record of 4.85 metres, which he set three years ago.
Among the key McGill women is Caroline Tanguay, a physical therapy sophomore from St. Hubert, Que., who will be chasing team records in the high jump (1.84m) and pole vault (3.65m).
Among the university teams registered for the meet are Calgary, Dalhousie, Guelph, Laval, Lakehead, McGill, McMaster, Middlebury College (NCAA), Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Queen’s, Regina, Saskatchewan, Sherbrooke, Saint Mary’s, St.FX, St. Thomas, Toronto, Trinity Western, UNB, UQAM, UQAC, UQAO, UQTR, Victoria, Waterloo, Western, Windsor and York.
Tomlinson Fieldhouse is located inside the McGill University Sports Centre at 475 Pine Avenue West. Tickets, available at the door, will be $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Children 12-and-under are admitted free.
Live stats and a video stream of the meet can be found here.
A complete schedule of events can be found here.