By Kirk Jessome
Looking to continue one of the greatest dynasties in university sport history, the women’s track and field team came into the season with the goal of winning their 30th consecutive AUS championship title.
The Tigers had talent spread across all event groups, with 60m runner Maya Reynolds leading the way. Reynolds had been impressively consistent all season long, posting a nationally fifth-ranked time of 7.62 or 7.63 four times during the season.
Coming off a very strong cross country season, Savanna Jordan posted national top 12 times in both the 1500m and 3000m events heading into the conference championship. Also coming off a great cross country season was fifth-year runner Sophie Watts, who put up a national-qualifying time in the 1000m.
Holding the top spot for the Tigers women’s team all season long was weight thrower Temi Toba-Oluboka. She made a statement early in the season with a throw of 16.22m, a nearly three-metre improvement over her best throw last year. Toba-Oluboka was ranked fifth in early January and maintained that spot going into the AUS championship.
Pentathlete Lorena Heubach put together a personal-best score in the event at the McGill Team Challenge that essentially gave her a spot at the national championship.
At the conference championship, the Tigers knew there would be fierce competition in their quest to their 30th consecutive win, but they were up to the challenge.
“We were up 10-0 in points against our closest competition after the first event (women’s shot put), and we were able to maintain that lead throughout the weekend,” says head coach Rich Lehman. “Getting out to a lead after the first event was definitely a key part of our success.”
The Tigers received strong performances at the championship from Jordan who won the 1000m, 1500m and 3000m events in addition to running on the gold medal-winning 4x800m relay team. Reynolds also added to the Tigers point total with second-place finishes in both the 60m and the 300m events.
Heubach also put together a gritty performance, not only completing five events to win the pentathlon, she also won the high jump and added a third-place finish in the long jump to help the Tigers continue their historic run.
On day one of the U SPORTS championship, Reynolds shattered her previous personal best in both the preliminary and in the final to take home a bronze medal in the 60m in a time of 7.50s. Jordan also scored points at the meet with a seventh-place finish in the 3000m.
Reflecting on the consistency of Reynolds’ performance this season, Lehman believes it was a sign of what was to come.
“Usually when you are that consistent with your results, and they are always close to your best, it means you are due for a massive breakthrough, and that’s exactly what happened.”
With most of the roster eligible to return next year, the Tigers will continue to grow and develop as they look to continue their unprecedented streak make it 31 consecutive conference wins.