The University of Toronto track and field teams had a spectacular two days of competition at the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) Championships at York University from February 21–22. The Blues notched 13 podium finishes over the two-day event, with the women claiming the overall bronze medal and the men’s team finishing just off the podium in fourth place. The results — six of which were first-place finishes — bode well for the Blues as they look ahead to U SPORTS Nationals.
On the women’s side, two rookie Blues won gold in their first OUA appearances. Pole vaulter Alexzandra Thorndson single-handedly swept her competition, while jumper Kristen Schulz — who also placed second in long jump — nabbed the triple jump crown. The women’s team rookies played a crucial role in their team’s bronze medal performance, with a notable performance coming from Christina Esposito, who teamed up with veteran standouts Lucia Stafford, Somerset Jarvis, and Sarah Kwajafa to earn the women’s four-by-800 metre relay silver.
First-year sprinters Elizabeth Martin, Onome Gbinje, and Maya Ryan also had fabulous performances: racing with veteran Katrina Innanen, they won silver in the four-by-200 metre relay. Martin also snagged a third place finish in the 60-metre sprint, while teammates Emily Branderhorst and Hannah Rolfe claimed first and third respectively in the high jump. Toronto’s medal performances were also accompanied by a pair of fourth-place finishes by Innanen in the 300-metre and the four-by-400 metre relays.
Jack Berkshire was the star of the men’s team, winning the 600 metre event while adding a bronze medal in the 300 metre. Cameron Bruce notched a first-place finish in the 60-metre hurdles, with triple jumper Femi Akinduro rounding out the gold medal performances with his second straight triple jump title. Frank Vreugdenhil completed his first OUA championship with a bronze medal in shot put and a sixth-place finish in weight throw.
Other notable performances included heptathlete Philippe Johns’ fifth-place standing, and a fourth-place finish from the four-by-200 metre team.
Toronto will now look forward to the U SPORTS National Championships, which will take place from March 5–7 at the University of Alberta. Varsity Blues fans should expect more big performances from the likes of Canadian record-holder Stafford, as well as two-time silver medallist Branderhorst and reigning champion Akinduro.