York welcomes OUA track & field’s best student athletes this weekend

Above: York Lions hurdler Christopher Theriau will run this weekend as York hosts the provincial championships at the Toronto Track & Field Centre

Several of the best track & field athletes from across the province will be at York University this weekend for the 2010 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Track & Field Championships, which are being held at the Toronto Track & Field Centre Feb. 26 and 27.

Action gets underway on Friday at 1pm and runs throughout the day until approximately 9pm. The event will pick up again on Saturday at 10:30am and go until close to 5pm.

For a complete schedule, live results, directions and more information, visit the Sport York 2010 OUA Track & Field Championships Web site.

Left: From left, York’s Tyrone Halstead and Randolph Fajardo

The York Lions men’s team finished third at the OUA championship last season while the women were sixth. This year, both squads have consistently been ranked among the nation’s top 10 and have a number of strong athletes with the ability to contend this weekend.

It will be a tough battle for the team titles. On the women’s side, the Guelph Gryphons won their first OUA track & field championship in program history last year by wrestling it away from the Windsor Lancers, who’d won the previous four, with a slim 7.5-point victory. The Lancers are favoured on the men’s side to win their 12th straight OUA championship after winning last year’s with a 70-point advantage over Guelph.

Last year, the Lions won a total of 15 medals, including seven golds, five silvers and three bronze medals. Several medallists are back again this season looking to earn more hardware and help York move up the team standings.

The Lions nearly swept the men’s 60-metre race last season as Tyrone Halstead, Randolph Fajardo and Olu Ogunde finished first, third and fourth, respectively. All three men are back this season and will challenge for the medals once again, as will teammate Dontae Richards-Kwok, last year’s OUA rookie of the year who was the 300-metre champion.

The men’s four-by-200-metre relay team is the reigning OUA and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champion and at last year’s meet they broke a 15-year meet record with a new time of 1:27.73.

Hurdles specialist Christopher Theriau captured the gold medal in last year’s 60-metre hurdles race and has an excellent chance to repeat as champion as he is currently the top-ranked athlete in the CIS in the event.

Rookie thrower Umar Khan had an impressive first season with the Lions and is a medal threat in both the shot put and the weight throw.

The women’s team is ranked among the CIS top 10 thanks to a trio of throwers – Cynthia Appiah, Kristin Obrochta and Elizabeth Petrov – and reigning CIS pole vault champion Heather Hamilton.

Appiah, Obrochta and Petrov have collected numerous medals in the shot put and weight throw this season and have a chance to sweep the shot put event. Petrov and Appiah have the best chance to win gold in the shot while Obrochta, last year’s OUA champion in the weight throw, will be looking for a repeat performance in the same event.

Hamilton set a new school record earlier this year with a jump of 4.25 metres and is the top-ranked pole vaulter in the CIS. That result is 28 centimetres better than the next best athlete in the country this season.

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 11 to 13, while others will be trying to achieve qualifying standards with strong results at the meet.

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