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Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

FIVE YEARS AGO, the University of Ottawa partnered with the Ottawa Lions Athletic Club to create the track and field team we know today. The recruits to the program have been training for only a short while, yet they have proven they can compete with far more experienced athletes in the country.

The Gees travelled to Manitoba to compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships, where they captured four gold, two silver, and one bronze medals March 8–10.

“Could we still have done better?” asked head coach Andy McInnis. “Absolutely—if it is possible to be perfect, but this not the case. The immensely competitive environment that the CIS currently finds itself in with our sport is incredibly challenging.”

Fourth-year Mark Chenery earned the U of O’s first medal, taking silver in the men’s pentathlon. He also placed first in long jump, second in 60M hurdles, and tied for third in high jump.

Rookie Sekou Kaba won a gold medal for the Gees in the men’s 60M hurdles, with a personal and university record of 7.92 seconds.

“Kaba is currently unstoppable, and the greater the competition, the stronger he comes at you. He is young in this event, which takes a few years to really step forward,” said McInnis. “Right now, he is only months away from securing his Canadian passport in what we hope will be in time to participate in the upcoming Canadian Olympic Trials.”

Fifth-year middle distance runner Jennifer Perrault also performed to her usual high standard, stealing gold in the women’s 1000M event just 0.02 seconds faster than the second-place finish from McMaster University. Fourth-year Michael Robertson, a nationally top-ranked runner, placed second in the men’s 300M.

The final day of the CIS championships saw the Gees maintain their confidence. The men’s 4x200M relay team, composed of Robertson, rookie Toluwalope Makinde, and second years Oluwasegun Makinde and Devin Biocchi, won gold in a CIS record-breaking time of 1:25.65, a record that hasn’t been broken since 2007. The same team raced the 4x400M and came out with yet another gold and a new university record. Perrault took another medal—a bronze in the women’s 600M.

“Our men’s relay teams delivered what was to be expected of [a team] that was ranked number one all season,” noted McInnis. “What was not expected was for the same four men to have to deliver the gold in both events. This is a rare occurrence and one which the team delivered.”

McInnis explained the quality of athleticism within the CIS has risen, making for great competition.

“Twenty-three schools scored on the men’s side of the CIS championships and 22 schools in the women’s championships, and there is no aggregate team championship. The depth of quality is outstanding and yet very diverse amongst universities.”

Twenty six school records have been broken by this year’s team, and we had 119 athletes put their name on the University of Ottawa All-Time Performance Rankings (since 1993) for this past season.

“These are the footprints of success and a great beginning for future teams and sport history for Ottawa to come.”

The men’s team placed fifth overall and the women’s team finished 13th at the CIS championships.