April 18th, 2024

Kodiaks excel on track during championships

By Lethbridge Herald on March 19, 2024.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

New records set, a repeat team champion and placing improvements were all a part of a successful weekend for the Lethbridge College Kodiaks indoor track teams in Edmonton at ACAC championships.

Kodiak men’s athlete Owen Stewart led the way as his time of 1:23.04 in the 600-metre race  and  time of 2:29.67 in the 1,000 metre were new ACAC, ACAC Championship and college records.

Stewart also won gold in the 1,500-metre event with a time of 3:59.69.

Head coach Simon Schaerz saw Stewart’s races as both a confident and dominant performance.

“Anytime there’s pressure on he becomes increasingly reliable and then of course he did that,” said Schaerz.

The Kodiaks won the 4×200 and 4×400 relay team events and set records for the ACAC, ACAC Championship and school records.

The 4×400 had a time of 3:30.93 and the 4×200 team had a time of 1:34.22.

“I think key for those were just clean running,” said Schaerz.

“I think we knew at the outset that we had a massive lead over the competition going into those. There’s certainly good individual runners on SAIT, Red Deer, St. Mary’s, but nobody had the depth, nobody had four runners that they could put forward that would be incredibly strong and we did,” said Schaerz.

The men’s team repeated as champions with 101 team points and four new ACAC and Lethbridge College records.

“They were even more dominant this year,” said Schaerz.

“I think last year we had a really deep team, and a good team, and they rack up a lot of points in each of the individual events and this year we did the same thing. But we won many of the events right which is really, really nice.”

Gunnarr Gibb and Orin May finished one, two in the 300-metre race with times of 36.13  and 36.67 respectively and third and second respectively with times of 7.15 and 7.14 in the 60-metre event.

“So that was really cool as well to see them really take on this new event and virtually be in  control of that,” said Schaerz, on their 60 metre efforts.

The women’s team showed tremendous improvement this year having moved up four spots to second place overall from a year ago to finish the highest in the team’s history with 49.50 points.

“I think just increasing depth,” said Schaerz.

“So we had a number of strong athletes last year, and this year we added more and more stronger athletes from both here and Alberta locally and then from Saskatchewan as well. That made the difference having strength there, having potential there and then working with that this year to move forward.”

While the results are still unofficial, Kodiaks para-athlete Hunter Graves won both 60 and 300-metre races with times of 16.70 and 1:17.05 respectively.

Both were new college records.

“Hugely inspirational, of course, for the team and for him as well to be able to be a part of it and compete in ACAC events,” said Schaerz.

“This is the first time that we’ve had any wheelchair athletes being able to compete in the championships and on an exhibition basis. But nonetheless, of course, being able to compete with us was huge, and we’re hoping that his participation this year will spark some interest, and kind of have other institutions evaluate whether or not they can include para-athletes on their rosters and then hopefully we have kind of a consistent para-class in ACAC.”

Schaerz ended off his year being named ACAC Coach of the year for the South Division.

“It always really nice to be recognized by the peers within the group because the Coach of the Year’s voted on by the other coaches in the ACAC,” he said.

“It does always feel a little bit odd, especially in track, because of course I’m just one of many coaches, and so really wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have the support of my other coaches.”

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