Sisters Dana (left) and Addy Townsend each competed at the GNAC track and field championships Friday and Saturday at Western Oregon. Both are coached by their mother, former Olympian Brit Townsend (right with Addy, photos courtesy SFU). (Photo of Townsend sisters by Gabriel Lynn property of SFU athletics)
Feature University Track and Field

The true meaning of Mother’s Day for SFU’s coach Brit and her daughters? Being together for the long run!

In the world of collegiate track and field, there are few times busier and more anticipated than the second weekend in May.

Traditionally, its Friday and Saturday are reserved for major meets in the run-up to national championships.

And in the case of the Simon Fraser Clan, it’s almost always the time when the team packs its bags and heads stateside to compete in the NCAA Div. 2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship meet.

Of course for SFU head coach Brit Townsend and her two distance-running daughters — Dana and Addy — that has turned Mother’s Day into an annual travel day back to the Lower Mainland.

“It’s different than the Mother’s Day that a lot of other people have, but we’ve gotten used to it,” says Addy, the Clan junior who on Saturday captured the conference’s 1500m title (4:24.59), beating out the pre-race favourite, Alaska Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat.

After all of the years she has spent at meets on the road and away from her family, having this window of her career to celebrate Mother’s Day in the company of her daughters has allowed Brit Townsend to truly appreciate the dual titles of coach and mom.

“For me to be able to see them fit and healthy and pursuing their dreams, and to know that they are good students and good people, that is my Mother’s Day gift,” the elder Townsend said of celebrating Mother’s Day this morning at the GNAC’s championship site south of Portland at Monmouth’s Western Oregon University.

“I have been fortunate that they are in the program at SFU so that I have been able to share in their successes,” added Townsend of Dana who is a redshirt senior, and Addy who is a junior.

SFU head coach Brit Townsend with daughter Addy at the 2017 NCAA D2 championships. (Photo courtesy SFU athletics)

The mom can remember the kinds of tough lessons her daughters have learned over this weekend, like back in 2016 when freshman Addy, new to the rigours of collegiate competition, ran less than her best in the middle-distance events that she now carries national rankings.

“Two years ago at GNACs, I can remember her in the middle of the field in tears, devastated that she didn’t run well,” her mom remembers. “I remember I pretty much had to push her into the 4x400m relay at the end of the day and they (Townsend, Bryce West, Alana Mussatto and Sophie Dodd) wound up winning. So sharing the lows and the highs is to me a great reward. It’s been a gift.”

One that keeps giving.

On Saturday, Addy Townsend and Dodd continued their dominance in the same race, teamming with Renate Bluschke and Nicole Lindsay to win gold again.

Of course once Sunday’s five-hour trip back home is complete, there will be some time to finish the day off in style.

“There’s always some sort of family dinner,” says Addy. “A big steak dinner, or maybe The Teahouse in Stanley Park?”

Dana Townsend (left) took part in the 3,000m steeplechase, while her younger sister Addy ran in the 800m and 1500m races, at the GNAC championships Friday and Saturday. (Photo by Gabriel Lynn property of SFU athletics)

Some of the Clan’s highlighted women’s finishes on Saturday:

*Meyer Quanynor placed second in the 100m (12.24 seconds) and also finished sixth in the 200m.

*Bluschke finished third in the 400m (56.32).

*Dodd, who had the No. 1 time in qualifying Friday for the 800m, took second (2:08.29) behind champ Danielle McCormick (2:08.25) of Alasksa Anchorage, with Townsend third at 2:10.06.

*Aly Ginther and Rebecca Bassett finished third (17:08.84) and sixth (17:28.33) respectively in the 5000m final.

On Friday, Reta Dobie won the 3,000m steeplechase (10:43.38).

Seattle Pacific was the women’s team champion while SFU finished sixth.

On the men’s side:

*Vlad Tsygankov won the 400m hurdles in a meet record time of 52.12 while teammate Johsua Adhemar was fourth.

*Joel Webster took to the medal podium with a third-place finish in the 400m final (48.51).

*Nathan Mah was fourth in the 100m (10.75 seconds) and sixth in the 200m.

*Sean Miller (14:51.04) and Oliver Jorgenson (15:00.04) took third and fourth in the 5,000m.

Jorgenson (8:59.19) and Braeden Charlton (9:04.89) took second and third in the 3,000m steeplechase.

The SFU 4x400m relay team of Adhemar, Tsygankov, Hameet Dhillon and Webster was fourth in a time of 3:16.72.

Concordia was the men’s team champion while SFU finished eighth.

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