York claimed first on the men’s side. (Cassandra Rogers / McGill Tribune)

Track and field: Setting the silver standard

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This weekend, McGill played host to the 19th annual McGill Team Challenge—a two-day track and field meet. With around 900 athletes taking part, it was advertised as the largest competition of its kind in Canada. The meet saw a number of records fall and featured eight Olympians.Although the event was a success, both the Redmen and the Martlets had been hoping for more on their home turf.

It was the York Lions and the Guelph Gryphons who took home the men’s and women’s titles respectively. York also placed second in the women’s division, as did Guelph on the men’s side of things. McGill, however, finished 11th in the men’s and 12th in the women’s, and earned just two podium finishes—both of which were silver medals.

“It wasn’t our greatest performance collectively at the team challenge,” McGill Head Coach Dennis Barrett remarked. “We want to at least be in the top 10 with our team talent. That would be the goal going forward.”

The first of the two medals came from sophomore Caroline Tanguay. Tanguay earned a silver medal in the high jump, leaping 1.72m. This came a week after she tallied a gold in the same event at the Laval Rouge et Or Invitational. Though first place was surely her aim again this weekend, Tanguay’s silver medal jump is actually an improvement on the one that brought her the first place finish in Laval—a jump that measured 1.68m.

The drop on the podium despite an improved score was a common theme for McGill athletes, as the large field provided stiff competition. Luguelin Santos, a silver medalist in the 2012 London Olympics—who competed as an independent athlete with Club Puma—won both the men’s 300m and 600m races, and broke a Tomlinson Fieldhouse record for the latter. Injuries were also partially to blame for the difficulties McGill ran into during the competition.

“We had a lot of athletes on the sidelines and some that competed [who] weren’t 100 per cent,” Barrett said. “We were kind of bitten by the injury bug there.”

McGill’s other silver medal came in the Pentathalon, where third-year neuroscience student Dylan Golow scored 3495 points—206 points behind the winner. The silver medal marks a seven spot jump from last year’s team challenge, where Golow placed ninth in the Pentathalon. Although Tanguay and Golow were the only medalists on the team, Barrett saw other strong performances by McGill athletes at the event.

“I thought our 4x200m men and our 4x400m men also performed very well,” Barrett said. “Those were some pretty standout performances in terms of McGill’s [standards].”

Although the 4x200m team of El-Hadj N’Doye, Eric Ellemo, Alexander Steinbrenner, and Benjamin Wyman finished sixth, their time of 1:30.33 was barely two seconds away from medal territory. The 4x400m group also finished sixth, about six seconds behind third place.

Though McGill may have wished for a better outcome, the end result still marked a solid weekend for the team. As exciting as it must be for athletes to compete at home, the meet is ultimately just another day with limited national championship implications.

“You hope that your athletes are more pumped up since it’s a home meet, but the preparation remains the same going towards the national championships,” Barrett said. “It’s one [of] the steps along the way—you know, a testing ground to see where our athletes are at.”

Those on the team who qualified will travel next to the Big Apple for the New York Collegiate Invitational, which begins on Feb. 6.