As most students counted down the hours before classes resumed, the men and women of the Dinos track and field squad pointed their hopes north to the University of Alberta where they competed in the Canada West Track and Field Championship Feb. 24-25. The women's squad aimed at a second consecutive CW title, while the weaker men's team expected to establish a name for themselves.
Shannon Popowich led the ladies' drive. She won the 1,500- and 3,000-metre runs and placed second in the 1,000-metre run behind teammate Renee Kaylor. Kaylor earned another gold while teammate Holly Ratzlaff claimed silver in the 600-metre run.
Diana Gruber was the sole Dino to podium in the short distance events. After running the fastest time in the preliminary 60-metre dash heats, she found herself in third in the finals--just 0.04 seconds off the winning pace. In the 60-metre hurdles, Gruber grabbed the bronze as well.
The Dinos ladies' true accomplishment however, was in the jumping events. They took the top four spots in the triple jump, with Tricia Palmer earning gold, Karen Baerg silver, Kim Tse bronze and Rachelle Nelson in fourth.
In the high jump it was Baerg who climbed to the top of the podium with Nelson right on her heels in third. In the long jump, Gruber's 5.80-metre jump missed the gold by just four centimetres but was good for silver as Palmer bound for bronze.
Baerg and Palmer both fared very well in the pentathlon, placing second and third with 3,377 and 3,366 points respectively.
In the relay, the Dinos ladies put forth a valiant effort. The 4X800-metre squad smoked the competition to earn the gold medal while the 4X200- and 4X400-metre teams both placed second. In the case of the latter, just one-hundredth of a second separated our ladies from the winners.
For their stellar performance, the ladies won the CW title with 129.33 points--well ahead of the second-placed University of Saskatchewan Huskies with 95 points. For her individual achievements, Popowich was named Female Performer of the Meet and CW Female Athlete of the Week. Her two individual golds, opening leg of the winning relay effort and individual silver earned the team 21.5 points towards their total.
On the men's side, Geoff Kerr was something amazing. He won both the 1,500- and 3,000-metre run. Trent Ratzlaff made some noise in the 600-metre run, grabbing the silver medal with a time just 0.15 seconds off the golden pace.
Another Dinos men's gold came in the 4X400-metre relay while the 4X800-metre squad placed second.
A fourth and final golden finish was Mark Baerg's 1.93-metre high jump. His teammate Jay O'Lain placed fourth in the same event. Baerg and Greg Maidment also made some noise in the pole vault, placing fourth and fifth respectively. Finally, John Fairbairn and Matthew Ng were fourth in the long and triple jumps respectively.
The men's endeavors put them third with 65 points behind the winning U of A Golden Bears, who had 111 points, and second-placed Huskies, who had 86.
Both the ladies and men can see the end of the road for the 2006 season; their next competition is the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship at the U of S Mar. 9-11.