Short but Sweet – Abbreviated Indoor Track Season sees Lightning rise to challenge
It was a unique season for the St. Mary’s Lightning Indoor track team in 2020, one that presented new challenges but saw the team achieve strong showings in the events leading up to the postponement of the season in early March.
The athletes put in consistent training over the course of the season and were chomping at the bit to put on a show at Provincials, however due to the suspended season, the Indoor Track team was unable to participate in the Indoor Track Championships which were supposed to take place March 21-22 in Edmonton but were cancelled.
The team participated in two ACAC Grand Prix track meets on January 25 in Edmonton and on March 7 in Red Deer while a few athletes also raced at Dino Indoor Track series meets in Calgary.
Donovan Miller only had the opportunity to participate in one ACAC track meet on January 25, 2020. Running his first track races in several years, Donovan placed 5th in the 600m in an impressive time (1:31) and ran a strong anchor leg in the 4 x 400 m relay.
“This was a tremendous result for Donovan and for the team,” said Nathan Ruff, Athletic Director at St. Mary’s University. “Having taken a break from competitive running and coming out and delivering a performance like this was really something special.”
Carter Gilkyson raced the 1000m and 4 x 400 relay on January 25 and the 1500m and 4 x 200m relay on March 7 and put in solid performances at both meets.
Quinn Demers ran a good season opener in the 300m on January 25 and a personal best in the 600m on March 7 while also serving as a strong lead off runner for 4 x 400 and 4 x 200m relays.
The team including Quinn Demers, Isaac Bignell, Carter Gilkyson and Franklin Manuana raced the 4 x 200m relay on March 7 in Red Deer and established a school record for this new event.
“We are so proud of our athletes and of this result,” said Ruff. “The commitment that these athletes showed to improving at their sport and their commitment to each other is what Lightning Athletics is really all about.”
Bethany Topping participated in three indoor track meets this season, competing in the 1000m and 1500m events and the 4 x 400 and 4 x 200m relays and had solid performances in every race.
“Bethany has improved every single year for the Lightning so her strong results were of no surprise,” said Ruff. “She consistently competed at a high level, we knew she would have a strong year.”
The team of Marissa Seegers, Emily Knudsgaard, Leonie Quedenbaum and Jaime Bellows also raced the 4 x 200m relay on March 7 and established a school record for this new event.
“To see our athletes come out and set school records is something that we can all look back on fondly,” said Ruff. “The season may not have ended how anyone would have expected but there were some truly special performances along the way.”
Armed with another year of experience and some record setting performances, the Lightning Indoor Track team will be in strong shape next season as we look forward to many of these athletes returning and hopefully having the opportunity to complete a full indoor track season.
Rebuild well underway for Lightning Cross Country Squad
With the graduation of many key athletes after the 2018 season, 2019 was a rebuilding year for the Lighting Cross Country team at St. Mary’s. Returning athletes stepped up their training and showed the way for a number of new runners on the team.
Despite cold and snowy conditions, St. Mary’s athletes had solid performances at the ACAC XC Championships on October 26, 2019 at Confederation Park in Calgary. The women’s team placed 6th and the men’s team placed 8th. St. Mary’s had full scoring teams (at least 4 athletes) for men and women at Provincials and all Grand Prix races.
A few key athletes were sick or injured and could not race at Provincials but the other athletes pulled together to perform well in their absence.
“Fielding full teams at all races is an important goal for our Cross Country teams,” said Ruff. “In order to keep progressing we need to be able to field a full team, this was an encouraging step for the program.”
The scoring women’s team members at Provincials were Bethany Topping, Julie Boyce, Jaime Bellows and Sydney Lockhart. Abby Griffiths, Shelby McQuitty, Samantha Salomons and Laura Fraser also performed well in the challenging conditions.
The scoring men’s team members at Provincials were: Isaac Duperreault, Donovan Miller, Isaac Bignell and Michael Kaufield. Quinn Demers and Jared Lockhart also put in strong racing efforts.
Many athletes had season’s best or all-time best performances at Provincials despite the conditions: Bethany Topping, Sydney Lockhart, Laura Fraser, Isaac Duperreault, Isaac Bignell, Michael Kaufield and Jared Lockhart all had breakthrough performances. Several others had their best time on the same course compared to the Grand Prix race a month earlier.
Bethany Topping was the top female performer for St. Mary’s at all 2019 XC races, a testament to her consistent training and focus. Isaac Duperreault was the top male athlete for St. Mary’s at Provincials and improved his performance at each race of the season, due to solid work building a base of fitness over the summer and training hard during the season.
Coach Donna Dixon was happy to see the progress in fitness made by all athletes from the beginning of the season and the strong team spirit that developed among all the athletes. The commitment to each other and the program has seen the cross country program take huge strides in the past year.