Fraser Caldwell

Sports Editor

 

It was the first step on their competitive journey for McMaster’s track athletes, and the results speak to the potential that both squads possess.

The Marauders men’s and women’s track teams took part in the annual Can Am Meet in Windsor from Jan. 13-14, and while both teams combined for only three medals over the course of the event, coach Paula Schnurr was encouraged by what she saw from her athletes in their first action.

“This is the first time out,” said Schnurr of her message to her runners. “Let’s keep things in perspective. You get a chance to see where you’re at, and coaches get the chance to see the same thing. Who gets to go on to the next meets is determined on the performance in the first one.

“Was there a lot of pressure? Not really. It just motivated people to do some work over the holidays. It’s hard when you go home and have a bit of a break through exams. I think people continued to work hard and it showed.”

Schnurr singled out veteran distance runner Graham Bowes for particular praise, whose time in the 3000m event in Windsor stands as a personal best and has him currently ranked seventh in the country at that distance.

“I think we were very pleased as a coaching staff, particularly with Graham Bowes. It was his first time out and he ran a [personal best]. Last year unfortunately he didn’t make the CIS event but this year he could definitely have a shot at making it to that stage.

“He was up against two Guelph guys who were part of their national championship winning cross-country team. So it was a good race, and a perfect time for him to take advantage of a good pace and hold on to it.”

Two other Marauder men set personal bests in the 3000m race, as Andrew Bysice and Cory McCurry finished seventh and eighth respectively.

On the women’s side, McMaster had success in the 1500m event, where a number of veteran runners give them substantial depth. The race saw the return to action of Lindsay Carson and Katie Anderson, who finished second and third respectively after lengthy injury layoffs.

Schnurr expressed her satisfaction in seeing both women return to the competitive fold, both of whom should figure prominently in the Marauders’ late-season medal push.

“Lindsay’s definitely getting there,” said the coach of her star distance performer’s rehabilitation process. “She’s going in the right direction and she’s been healthy, which is a huge bonus for her with her past. Training is going well but this was her first race in quite a while.

“Katie Anderson was out last year, having had mono through the indoor season. She didn’t run at all, so it’s been a really long time for her. Based on her training I could tell that she was ready for a good race. Was I surprised? Not really. But I think she was quite happy with it and a little surprised herself.”

The two veteran returnees are part of a deep pool of McMaster women at the 1500m distance, a group that will undoubtedly challenge for silverware at the highest levels this season.

“The strength on the distance side is in the 1500m between Lindsay, Katie, Jill [Wyman], Victoria Coates and Sarah Haliburton,” said Schnurr. “We’ve got five girls who could be in the top 10-12 in the country. Lindsay is third, Katie is fourth and Jill is sixth at this point.”

Much of the women’s squad remains a work in progress at this stage, as several runners strive to return from injury and the team tutors a sizeable rookie class in the sprint distances.

“When we looked at the women’s side and the number of women we left behind due to injury, it was almost half of the team we had last season,” said Schnurr of her Windsor contingent. “Victoria Coates is coming back and will race this weekend. Stephanie MacNeill is out with a bit of an injury. Courtney Patterson is coming back. Sara Giovannetti and Rachel Lamb are injured.

“There’s five girls there that were a big part of the team in the past three, four years. But they’re starting to come around.

“Our women on the sprint side are generally rookies, so in terms of improvement it comes down to being consistent with their training. This is a year where you want to keep people healthy and training, and building to their second, third and fourth years.”

The Marauder men also find themselves dealing with a few nagging injuries, but Schnurr remains confident that McMaster’s sprinters will be in a position to improve their record-setting pace from last season.

“We’re looking forward to the 4x200m and 4x400m teams to be back up and competitive again this year,” said the coach. “I know that they want to improve on last year’s time. Jimmy [Tat] and Scott [Hutchinson] are both looking to improve their times in the 300m.”

The Marauders will have a chance to demonstrate such improvement this coming weekend, as they travel to London to take part in the Don Wright Track and Field Challenge on Jan. 21.

Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.