by Kirk Jessome
The 2017-18 women’s track and field team added yet another title to one of the most impressive winning streaks in university sports, claiming their 29th consecutive AUS championship banner.
With a very young roster complemented with a few key veterans, the Tigers flew under the radar for most of the year with athletes quietly setting national qualifying times throughout the season.
Second-year sprinter Maya Reynolds was one of those athletes, posting a 60m time early in the season that ranked her fifth in the nation. Reynolds also put together some fast times in the 60m hurdles.
First-year Lorena Heubach was incredibly impressive in her rookie campaign as a multi-eventer. At the McGill Team Challenge, Heubach scored 3361 points in the pentathlon to rank her fifth in the country and qualify for nationals.
There were also standout performances from field athletes during the year, including first-year thrower Brooklynn Rutherford who was ranked in the top 12 for much of the season. Tigers head coach Rich Lehman spoke to the improvement of his field athletes since last year.
“It’s been a great season for our throws program,” says Lehman. “We scored zero points in throws on the women’s side last year, and now we have medallists in both events.”
Heading into the AUS championships, Lehman was expecting a battle between his team and StFX, but it was never even close. The Tigers captured the conference banner by 45 points, thanks to 16 individual medals and gold in all three relays.
Fourth-year runner Michelle Reddy had a fantastic championship meet, highlighted by a new AUS record in the 1000m by nearly two full seconds. Reddy also took home gold medals in the 600m and 1500m races.
At the U SPORTS national championships, it was the first years that led the way for the Tigers. Heubach ran a very hard-fought 800m in the final event of the pentathlon to earn fifth-place.
Also scoring points at the national championships was standout rookie Savanna Jordan, who crossed the line in eighth in the 3000m just two weeks after representing Canada at the Cross Country Pan America Cup in El Salvador.
“Our group of rookies this year have performed even better than we had hoped they would,” says Lehman. “It’s very promising for the future of our program if we can continue to develop our young athletes into national medal contenders.”
The team finished 18th, but Lehman was still impressed with the overall performance of the group.
“We scored more points than we were projected to based on the rankings heading into the meet and had other athletes and a relay finish just outside the points. Those few extra points could have made the difference between 18th and 13th.”
With most of their athletes returning after another summer of development, plus some talented young athletes to come next season, the future of the Tigers track and field program looks very promising.