Dalhousie University went home with both the men’s and women’s titles at the 21st McGill Team Challenge, the largest indoor track and field meet in Canada. About 600 athletes from 15 universities competed on Friday and Saturday at Richard Tomlinson Fieldhouse with the Redmen placing fourth and the Martlets finishing third overall. The Dalhousie Tigers’ pair of wins are the first men’s title for the university and the second for the women’s team, who last won in 2005. Dalhousie’s men’s and women’s teams each earned 13 medals.
Overall, McGill collected three gold, three silver, and six bronze medals between the Redmen and Martlets. This marks a significant improvement over last year’s McGill Team Challenge, when the Redmen finished sixth and the Martlets came in ninth overall. Fourth-year Assistant Coach Jim McDannald was proud of the way his teams ran in front of a home crowd.
“I thought they all performed well,” he said. “It definitely helps when you have better teams coming in and being at home. People want to perform well in front of friends and family. Hosting this meet in Montreal gets athletes excited to go out there and have high quality performances.”
The best McGill performance came from senior Helena Reinfels in the women’s pentathlon. Her gold medal-winning effort for 3,777 points beat both the meet and McGill records of 3,767 and 3,515 respectively. The Puslinch, Ontario-native also qualified for the 2016 CIS National Championship at York University in March, the only competitor from McGill to do so.
“[Reinfels’] high jump is something that she’s been working really hard on,” McDannald said. “That came through for her this weekend and led to a big score and hopefully she continues to progress through the season and have the chance to end up on the podium at CIS [championships] and have a similar performance.”
Other strong performers from McGill included junior Francois Jarry, who set a McGill record in the 3000m with a time of 8:18.79, and senior Vincent Parent-Pichette, whose 2:25.51 1000m time set yet another McGill record. Jarry’s record replaces a previously set record of 8:22.00 by Francois Binette in 1990 and also earned him a silver medal in the event.
Besides Reinfels’ stunning performance in the pentathlon, McGill won gold medals in the men’s 4x800m relay and the men’s pole vault. The Redmen team was composed of junior Cody Rountree running first leg; followed by juniors Ethan Wilkinson and Benjamin Forestell; and finally Parent-Pichette in the anchor leg. The team ran 7:43.05, less than five seconds away from qualifying for Nationals and just short of the school record of 7:41.90. Senior Riley van Ryswyk of Surrey, British Columbia cleared 4.79m in the pole vault, also just short of the CIS Championship qualifying mark of 4.83m.
McGill’s final home meet of the season is on Feb. 13, followed by the championship portion of the season. This year’s RSEQ Championship will be held at McGill on Feb. 26.
“We’re hoping this [is] a kind of a building block to some bigger things down the road for us this season,” McDannald said. “We encourage the McGill community to come out and support us.”
“I think our team is getting more mature. We’ve had younger teams the last couple of years and in track and field–especially in field events–the practice it takes to acquire the skill in those events just takes time. Having a strong core of veteran athletes that has stuck together and made a commitment to get better over the long term has led us to where we are this year.”—McDannald on his teams’ improvements over last year’s McGill Team Challenge
Stat of the game:
Two fieldhouse records, three meet records, and three McGill records were set over the weekend.
Moment of the meet:
Helena Reinfels’ pentathlon score of 3,777 is the best university women’s pentathlon in Canada so far this season and consists of a cumulative score in the 60 metres hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 metre race.