Building on the success of the Meet of Excellence two years ago, the Toronto International Games played host to the final stop in the National Track League (NTL) before a nearly sold out crowd at Varsity Stadium.
For complete results
Scott Russell broke his own Canadian record in the javelin with an incredible toss of 84.81m to win the event and the NTL javelin title. This came after the number one ranked shot putter in the world, Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops, British Columbia, got things started by winning the first overall NTL men’s title with a toss of 21.21m.
On the track, Bryan Barnett of Edmonton, Alberta won the 200m in 20.86, capturing an NTL event title over Jared Connaughton after edging him in the same event at Nationals only weeks ago.
“So far so good this season,” said Barnett. “I’m injury free and the biggest goal was to make it through the season without injuries. I think it’s just more me growing up and taking it more seriously. Today I was just going for the win. The time wasn’t really what I wanted. After this I’m getting ready for a relay camp in Ottawa and then the World Championships in Korea.”
In the women’s 800m, Latavia Thomas of the United states led the field through 59 seconds and held on for the win despite a late charge Lemlem Ogbasillasie. The men’s 800m similarly went through at a hot pace of 50 seconds, led by Kevin Everett of the United States, who finished in 1:47.29. The Danny Kassap Memorial 3000m turned into a cakewalk for Alex Genest of Speed River, who took the field through 2:07 for 800m before separating himself and finishing in 8:04.
With much of the attention on Esther Akinsulie and Adrienne Power, who were each batting for the lead in the 400m NTL standings and battling each other coming up the homestretch, Amonn Nelson of Calgary, Alberta found another gear during the final 40m and won the event and NTL title in 52.76.
“I knew it was going to be competitive because when we relay girls get together it’s always fun to compete against each other,” said Nelson. “I just wanted to come out and do the best that I could and I was glad I was able to hit it at the end. This season has been a little up and down. I pulled my hamstring earlier in the season two weeks before nationals so I’m coming back from that and it affected me a little bit. Right now I am getting ready for FISU in August and then hopefully our 4x400 will be going to Worlds as well.”
The women’s 1500m saw Kim Conley of the United States take the field through the 1100m in 3:06 before Kate Van Buskirk kicked out of fourth place with a 65 second final lap to take the win in 4:13.51. It was just short of her personal best set two weeks ago at Harry Jerome. The recent graduate of Duke is now training with Athletics Toronto and preparing for the World University Games.
“I’m really pleased,” said Van Buskirk. “I think when you had some setbacks and injuries over the years it’s nice to have some success and health and consistency. You can get kind of greedy and I think I’ve had to check myself and appreciate how blessed I am to be healthy and fit and to have such a great training group. I had a great season down south and that set me so well up for this summer. I really wanted 4:10 tonight. I just didn’t quite get on the rabbit and it was in the homestretch at 1200m we were 3:22 when I knew that was slow. Still this was great race prep for China (FISU) and hopefully I can do something good down there in a month. My goal is to make the final and maybe medal.”
The men’s 1500m was won in 3:39.32 by Silas Kisoiro after the Oklahoma Christian University runner took the field through in 58 seconds for 400m and 1:57 for 800m off the rabbiting of Rob Jackson. It was Kyle Boorsma of Speed River in Guelph who took the NTL event title by placing fourth in 3:42.14.
“I had to be the top Canadian today to take it home,” said Boorsma. “It’s been kind of an up and down year. I was injured and missed a month of training in April and May because my kneecap wasn’t tracking properly and it was giving me a lot of pain. I kind of surprised myself with personal best in Vancouver so things have been going well since then. It was pretty tight between a few of us (for the NTL title) and everyone was picking up a few points here and there. I had to come out and be top Canadian. Right now my plan is to head over to Europe and get in some fast races and see what happens.”
The hammer throw NTL title was won by Heather Steacy of Alberta after she won with a toss of 69.32m. Mark Dillon of Toronto also hung on in the high jump over Derek Watkins of Windsor by clearing 2.15m, despite being beaten on the day Jamie Nieto of the United States.
In the 100m, Walter Dix of the United States and Justyn Warner battled down the straightaway until Dix pulled away the last 30m to win the event in 10.18. With a run of 10.31, Warner was second on the day and had accumulated enough points to take the NTL event title.
“The season had been going all right,” said Warner. “My body is tried from running consecutive races over and over so I just need to get back to training and prepare for Worlds. I’ve been racing a lot more but it’s something I need to get used to because when I go to Europe they race every 2 to 3 days.”
Now coached by Desai Williams, the young sprinter has undergone some changes.
“Desai changed up everything technically, my form, my drive and the whole race plan,” said Warner. “Today I just wanted to run a personal best. My goal is to run under 10 seconds and I know I can do it. It was kind of tough running into a headwind but I wanted to execute a good race plan. I didn’t start well and tightened up but there are more races to come and get ready for worlds. Winning this title feels great. It’s a great opportunity for Canadian athletes so hopefully next year there are more meets and more Canadians and more international athletes coming to compete against us.”
The upset of the day came on the heels of a magical season for Phylciia Georga, who captured the NTL event title in the 100m hurdles, and the overall NTL women’s title. On a day she ran into a headwind, George beat two Olympians (Angela Whyte and Perdita Felicien) to win in 12.87.
“Its been amazing,” said George, who is now coached by Anthony McCleary. “Out of this world. I’ve just been having personal best after personal best. Going into the seasons it was 13.39 and I just ran 12,76 on Sunday so it was really a big drop. Its exciting and lets me know I’m on the right track. The different has been coming to practice and keeping the intensity high every single day and keeping high standards and goals. I’m already going to Worlds so I definitely want to be in the final and keep running fast.”
Although there are always improvements that will come with the time and experience to prepare for them, the National Track League set a high bar in its first year of existence and will hopefully to continue to grow along with the sport.
SERIES STANDINGS (FINAL)
|Men 100m||Women 100mH|
|1. Justyn Warner||1. Phylicia George|
|2. Michael LeBlanc||2. Perdita Felicien|
|3. Nikkita Holder|
|Men 200m||Women 400m|
|1. Bryan Barnett||1. Amonn Nelson|
|2. Jared Connaughton||2. Esther Akinsulie|
|3. Dontae Richards-Kwok||3. Adrienne Power|
|Men TIMEX 1500m||Women RUNNING ROOM 800m|
|1. Kyle Boorsma||1. Lemlem Ogbasilassie|
|2. Anthony Berkis||2. Karine Belleau-Beliveau|
|3. Peter Corrigan||3. Melissa Bishop|
|Men High Jump||Women Hammer Throw|
|1. Mark Dillon||1. Heather Steacy|
|2. Derek Watkins||2. Sultana Frizell|
|3. Crystal Smith|
|Men Javelin Throw||Women Long Jump|
|1. Scott Russell||1. Krysha Bayley|
|2. Kyle Nielson||2. Ruky Abdulai|
|3. Caleb Jones||3. Alice Falaiye|
|PERFORMANCE BONUS STANDINGS (as of July 12)|
|Men (Average Score)||Women (Average Score)|
|1. Dylan Armstrong (1198)||1. Phylicia George (1173.5)|
|2. Geoff Martinson (1116)||2. Jessica Zelinka (1149.5)|
|3. Justyn Warner (1105.5)||3. Angela Whyte (1132.5)|
|4. Tremaine Harris (1089.5)||4. Nicole Sifuentes (1130.5)|
|5. Scott Russell (1079.5)||5. Lemlem Ogbasilassie (1121)|
|5. Jessica Smith (1121)|