The spring season in university sports circles is now in full flight.
Here’s our look at five takeaways from the weekend.
As I study the continued success of Simon Fraser women’s middle distance running, I’m reminded of a story I wrote in June of 2014, in the aftermath of that season’s Subway B.C. high school track and field championships.
On the event’s final day, I was curious to discover that four of the top six finishers in the girls senior varsity 800-metres final were athletes headed to Simon Fraser that coming fall to begin their collegiate track careers.
Over the weekend, at the San Francisco Distance Carnival, three members of that foursome, now all juniors, reinforced their Top 20 ranking within NCAA Div. 2.
In the 800 metres, Alana Mussatto (personal-best 2:08.79) and Sophie Dodd (2:11.37) turned in the third- and eighth-place finishes and currently sit with respective national rankings of No. 8 and No. 15.
In the 1,500 metres, Bassett placed 16th with a time of 4:34.06 and is ranked 19th nationally.
And the best part of looking back on that 800-metre high school race of almost three seasons ago?
The girl who won the race that day was a Grade 11 from Coquitlam’s Dr. Charles Best Secondary, and she would also join the Clan, arriving for the 2015-16 season.
Over the weekend, Addy Townsend, the daughter of Clan head coach Brit Townsend, was at her best at the Stanford Invitational.
The freshly-minted GNAC Indoor Athlete of the Year, Townsend turned in personal bests in both the 1,500 and 800 metres.
Townsend took three seconds off her personal best in the 800-metres with a 2:08.39 that was good enough for first in her heat and a No. 6 national ranking.
And in the 1,500 metres, her first of the outdoor season, she clocked 4:28.36, lopping a full five seconds off her personal best sit No. 1 nationally.
Separate from that group, a host of other Clan women’s runners excelled over the weekend at the Distance Carnival.
Freshman Diana Voloshin ran the third-fastest 100-metre hurdles in GNAC history (14.03).
In the 400 metres, Chantal Desch placed second behind a personal-best 55.48 seconds performance.
Paige Nock ran 2:09.17 in the 800 metres.
Julia Howley set a PB in the 1,500 metres at 4:30.89.
THE ACE DOES IT AGAIN
The remarkable season of UBC Thunderbirds staff ace Connor Noble continued on Friday.
This time, the unflappable Noble (5-0) went the nine-inning distance, throwing a complete-game five hitter, fanning four while walking just two as the ‘Birds opened a five-game homestand against the Lewis-Clark State Warriors with a 6-5 win.
UBC (21-10) closed Friday with a 6-4 win over Lewis-Clark State, lost a pair on Saturday to the Warriors but then came back on Sunday to win the series behind a 9-6 victory.
The Birds are back in action in Salem, Ore., Saturday and Sunday with four games against Corban College.
BLUE-AND-GOLD DROUGHT IS OVER
‘The UBC softball team has new reason for hope.
Losers of 15 straight games heading into a weekend home series, the ‘Birds bounced back in spectacular fashion, sweeping Montana’s visiting Great Falls Argos in a three-game series at Surrey’s Softball City.
After posting 2-1 and 3-1 victories on Friday, UBC’s dormant offence came to life in a 13-7 win as the ‘Birds (4-16, 3-9) rallied from an early 4-0 deficit,
Frances Ramsay, Lexie Brenneis and Hillary Strelau drove in three runs apeice, Strelau helping start the rally with a two-run, in-the-park homer against the Argos (11-14, 3-12).
The ‘Birds play seven games over three days on the road later this week, opening Friday and Saturday with double-headers at College of Idaho, and finishing with triple-header next Sunday in Montana against Carroll College.
NO FIRST-YEAR JITTERS
They may just be freshmen, but before it’s all said and done, UBC javelin throwers Roan Allen and Isaac Sandri could become real veteran of the NAIA national championships.
With their first-ever collegiate outdoor season barely underway at Saturday’s UBC Open, the first-year ‘Birds each booked their tickets to the national championships May 25-27 in Gulf Shore, Ala.
Sandri, from Nanaimo’s Wellington Secondary, earned his ticket behind a throw of 57.41 metres, while Allen of Ottawa’s Ashbury College, was close behind at 57.33.
A STAR IS BORN
On Thursday, we brought you the story of Simon Fraser long jumper and 400-metre standout Vlad Tsygankov, the junior import from Moscow who said he had “a mix of nervousness and high expectations” when it came to running his first 400-metre hurdles in four years at a meet in San Francisco. (click here to read story)
So how do you think Tsygankov fared?
Uh, how about the fastest 400-metre hurdles time in GNAC history?
In a very competitive field, Tsygankov clocked a 51.48 finish, the fourth fastest time in the NCAA this season and good enough to make the national provisional qualifying standard.
And Saturday was only April 1.
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