Provincial track & field championships coming to York

Several of the best track and field athletes from across the province will be at York University this weekend for the 2009 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Track & Field Championships, which are being held at the Toronto Track & Field Centre on York’s Keele campus, Feb. 27 and 28.

Action gets underway Friday afternoon at 12:30pm and runs until 9pm. The event will pick up again on Saturday morning at 9am and go until 5pm.

The York Lions men’s team finished fourth at the OUA championship last season, while the women were fifth. The men have climbed as high as No. 2 in the national rankings this season and currently sit at No. 4. Both squads will be looking to knock off the University of Windsor Lancers, who have had a stranglehold on both team titles over the past several years. The Lancers men have won 10 straight championships and 17 of the last 18, while the women have emerged victorious for four consecutive seasons.

Right: Competing in this year’s OUA Championship is Ryan Finn, who won bronze at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship in the men’s 600-metre race last season

Last year, the Lions won a total of nine medals at the OUA championships, including five gold medals, three silvers and one bronze. Six medallists are back again this season looking to earn more hardware and help York move up the team standings. Sprinter Tyrone Halstead won gold in the men’s 60-metre race last year, while teammate Randolph Fajardo finished third. Both men are back this season and will challenge for the medals once again, as will teammates Dontae Richards-Kwok and Olu Ogunde.

Fajardo also won a silver medal at last year’s OUA championship in the men’s 300-metre race and was part of the gold-medal winning 4-by-200-metre relay team that also included Halstead and Mat Stiver-Balla.

Also claiming medals on the men’s side were Chris Theriau with a silver in the men’s 60-metre hurdles and Ryan Finn in the men’s 1000-metre race. Finn went on to win a bronze at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship in the men’s 600-metre race last season, while Theriau finished fourth for the third straight year at the national championship.

Lions pole vaulter Heather Hamilton won the OUA gold medal last year and has a strong chance of repeating this season, as she has finished first in all four events she’s participated in this year.

Kristin Obrochta has also had a stellar season leading up to the championships and will contend for medals this weekend in the throwing events. She has claimed gold at meets already this year while setting new school records in the process. Fellow thrower Elizabeth Petrov has claimed shot put gold at the last two meets she’s participated in, while teammate Cynthia Appiah has also posted big numbers in the event and both will have the opportunity to win a medal this weekend.

Many athletes competing at this weekend’s event have already punched their tickets to the CIS Track & Field Championships, which are being hosted by the University of Windsor from March 12 to 14, while others will be trying to achieve qualifying standards with strong results at the meet.

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