Track & field athletes are home for York University Open this weekend

Heather HamiltonMembers of the York University track & field team will compete on home turf Saturday at the 39th annual York University Open as part of a busy weekend for the Lions. Also at home are the men’s and women’s basketball teams and women’s hockey team, which all have a pair of games on the schedule, and the women’s volleyball team.

The York Open begins at 10am at the Toronto Track & Field Centre. The meet represents the last opportunity for the Lions to compete at home before they host the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships at the end of the month. The track & field team is coming off a successful meet in Montreal, where the men finished third and the women were fifth at the McGill University Team Challenge after combining to record 26 top-10 finishes.

A strong team this season has the Lions capable of improving upon their nine-medal performance at last year’s York Open. School and meet records may also be in jeopardy at the meet with the Lions working hard on their times and distances. Two school records fell last weekend: Heather Hamilton (left) jumped 4.25 metres in the pole vault at the UCS National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada, and Umar Khan threw 14.73 metres in the shot put at McGill.

The women’s hockey team plays its final home games of the OUA regular season this weekend with contests at Canlan Ice Sports against the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday at 2pm and the Laurier Golden Hawks on Sunday at 2pm. The Lions continue to sit in third place in the standings with a 15-7-1 record and need a couple of big games as they challenge for the second spot and thus a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Waterloo is just 6-14-3 so far this season and is seven points out of a playoff spot. The Lions defeated the Warriors in both previous contests, winning 2-1 at home and 6-1 on the road.

They will be in for a much tougher game on Sunday against the undefeated and No. 2 nationally ranked Laurier Golden Hawks, but proved last year they are capable of beating the best. The Golden Hawks entered their finale last season undefeated and needed only one more win for a perfect record, but the Lions caused the upset of the year by beating Laurier 3-2 on home ice.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams also face a tough task this weekend when they welcome the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees to the Tait McKenzie Centre. Both Carleton teams are ranked among the nation’s top 10 – the men are No. 1 and the women No. 10 – and the Ottawa men’s team sits at No. 6. The Lions will face the Ravens on Friday night as part of a doubleheader, with the women beginning at 6pm and the men following at 8pm, and the teams will take on the Gee-Gees on Saturday night at the same times.

Both York squads picked up their third victories of the season with wins over the Royal Military College Paladins in Kingston last weekend. The Lions are currently out of the playoffs but can sneak into a spot if each team can win its remaining four games.

Finally, the women’s volleyball team will play its first home game in almost a month on Sunday at 3pm against the Ryerson Rams. The Lions have gone 4-2 since their last contest at Tait, including a two-game sweep of the Lakehead Thunderwolves last weekend, and sit in a tie with Queen’s for second place in the OUA East standings with a 10-5 record and a game in hand over their nearest rivals. In their previous meeting against Ryerson this season, the Lions won a 3-2 thriller after surviving a late charge by the Rams when they won the third and fourth sets.

Tickets for all games are available at the door. York students are free with presentation of their YU-card. Adults can purchase tickets for $8 and students and seniors for $5. Children 12 and under are free.

Submitted by Alyson Fisher, sport & recreation information officer with Sport York