Matt Gutsch, Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Golden Bears claimed victory in the men’s standings of the 2017 GBO track and field event, held in the Universiade Pavilion, while the Calgary Dinos comfortably won the women’s table.
One year after finishing second at the GBO, the Bears continued their ascension this time earning the top spot this season with 65 total points. That trumped Regina’s 57 points as well as the 47 collected by the Saskatchewan Huskies.
The Bears were powered to the home meet win by Saturday victories in the 300m race and pole vault, as well as Friday night wins in the 4x200m relay. Rookie Austin Cole, a graduate of Salisbury High School in Sherwood Park, picked up the win in the 300m, crossing the line with a time of 34.14, which is one of the top Golden Bear times in that event in recent history. Alberta’s youth continued to pave the way to a team win when sophomore pole vaulter Spencer Allen finished second with a jump of 5.04m.
Alberta also earned points with top three finishes in the 60m dash (Thompson Weegar – 3rd) and in the 1,500m (Kieran McDonald – 2nd) event.
On the women’s side, the Dinos dominated from day one to finish, earning 88 total points to finish on top. Saskatchewan was next in line, finishing with 49 points, while Regina completed their competition in third place with 45 points. The Alberta Pandas, winners of the Canada West and GBO crowns last season, ended up in fourth with 43 points.
The Pandas lone Saturday victory came courtesy sophomore sprinter Ashley Whiteman as she raced to first in the 300m with a time of 39.01. The hosts also received top three results in the triple jump (Erika Pearson -2nd) and 1,500m (Nicole Soderberg – 2nd and Morgan Lawley – 3rd).
In one of the most anticipated events of the weekend, the women’s 600m, Victoria’s Rachel Francois defeated Calgary’s Jenna Westaway with a GBO record setting time of 1:30.42. The previous record, established in 2015, was set by Westaway who set the bar at 1:30.70, and she finished with a time of 1:30.72 this season.
Alberta will return to action on February 10 when they host the Golden Bears Challenge event, and then they will compete in the Canada West championships on February 24th at the University of Regina. The Bears and Pandas will then host the U SPORTS national championships March 9-11.