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Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

WITH NINE FIRST-PLACE finishes in their pockets, the University of Ottawa track and field team is well on its way to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships. The Gees hosted the UOttawa Winter National Capital Invitational at the Louis Riel Dome on Feb. 11,  proving they are just as good on home soil as they are on the road.

The men’s team, currently ranked second nationally, was led by the 4x200M relay squad, which earned first place with a time of 1:25.28—one second faster than the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) record. The group consisted of second-year Oluwasegun Makinde, second-year Moussa Sissoko, second-year Devin Biocchi, and fourth-year Michael Robertson.

“The goal for this meet was to run certain times to ensure that my fitness was up and that I was still able to be consistent,” said Makinde of the invitational. “I was able to do that. I ran all the times that I wanted to run—6.9 in the 60M, 33.93 in the 300M, and [contributed] a strong leg to the 4x200M along with my teammates Biocchi, Sissoko, and Robertson. So I’m pleased with the way things went.”

Makinde and Sissoko came close to tying for first place in the 60M sprint, with Makinde inching forward by 0.0002 seconds to claim the prize. Third-year Remy Binns won first place in the 1500M run while rookie Sekou Kaba won the 60M hurdles event.

“My first year has been phenomenal; I’ve been running personal bests every time I race, so I’m making improvements,” said Kaba. “I did alright at the meet. I ran my slowest times of the year because of the hard workouts I went though during the week to prepare for the upcoming weeks.”

The nationally ninth-ranked women’s team also performed well, with fifth-year middle distance runner Jennifer Perrault breaking an 11-year stagnant school record in the 600M event with a time of 1:29.91.

Fourth-year Julia Tousaw came in a close second behind Perrault with a time of 1:31.60. The women’s 4x400M relay team also spearheaded a first-place finish under the leadership of Tousaw and Perrault.

With only two weeks left until the OUA championships, athletes are focusing on their winning mentality as opposed to their fitness.

“My goals for OUA [championships] are to simply apply everything I’ve been practicing, and to finish in first place,” said Kaba. “My coach and I are slowly cutting back on the harder workouts so that I can be fully rested and prepared.”

Makinde agreed lessening their fitness regimes before such an important meet is beneficial, but also that each invitational acts as a practice for his bigger and more ambitious goals.

“Between now and [the OUA championship] I really don’t know what exactly the plan is, but my coach knows so I trust him,” he said. “All these meets that I’ve been competing in, and the bigger meets coming up (like the OUA’s or CIS meet) are like training sessions in preparation for the real tests—when I have to compete outdoors to hopefully make the 2012 Olympic team and represent Canada, [the U of O], and my home town [of] Ottawa.

The Gees will participate in their final invitational at McGill University on Feb. 18 before the OUA championships.