By Kirk Jessome
Looking to continue one of the longest winning streaks in Canadian collegiate sports history, the Tigers women’s track and field team came into the 2019-20 season looking to capture their 31st AUS title in a row.
The Tigers had an exceptionally young roster, with a few very key veterans in Maya Reynolds, Temi Toba-Oluboka, Lorena Heubach and Catherine Thompson. The group, however, was very well balanced.
Reynolds, last season’s U SPORTS 60m bronze medallist, captained a developing sprints group with Taylor Mattinson making strides this season, while Toba-Oluboka led a throws group that added Chelsea MacIsaac to the roster to be an immediate medal threat.
It was a breakout season for Heubach. Already a top-eight finisher in the pentathlon at the national championships, she made strides to perform exceptionally well in the individual events as well.
That progression started at the New Brunswick University Invitational at the new facility in Saint John, where Heubach set a new Dalhousie record in the pentathlon, auto-qualifying for the U SPORTS championship and ranking her third in the country.
Also finding the best mark of their seasons at that meet, Reynolds was able to put herself in the top-10 rankings posting a 7.54 in the 60m, while Toba-Oluboka found her mark in the weight throw.
At the AUS championships, the weekend was kicked off with the Tigers opening up an early lead in the points with MacIsaac, Toba-Oluboka, Paige Minicola and Heubach all finishing in the top-six of the shot put, with MacIsaac taking home a silver medal in a personal-best effort.
The Tigers steadily built on that lead throughout day one, with Heubach taking home gold in both the high jump and the 60mH, while Reynolds took the win in the 300m and Thompson won the 3000m.
Day two was an historic one for the Tigers, with Heubach setting a new AUS record in the long jump with a distance of 5.97m. Reynolds set a new championship record in the 60m and Toba-Oluboka won gold and earned a ninth-place ranking in the country in weight throw. Those wins, along with plenty of other medallists and point-getting performances, set the stage for a conference championship title; their 31st consecutive.
The U SPORTS championships may not have gone perfectly for the Tigers, but it was still full of season-best performances, with Reynolds placing fifth in the 60m and Toba-Oluboka just missing out on the finals of the weight throw.
After clipping a hurdle and taking a fall in the first event of the pentathlon, Heubach elected to withdraw from the event and focus on the individual high jump and long jump events, and it was a good decision. With a personal-best jump of 5.90m, Heubach won gold in the long jump, in just her third season of eligibility.
AUS coach of the year Rich Lehman hopes that is just one of many for Heubach.
“Lorena’s beak-out season was the story of the year for us,” he says. “With two years of eligibility left, we are hoping she can add to her medal count for years to come.”
With Heubach and Reynolds returning along with another year of development for a young roster, the Tigers will be threatening for banner number 32 next season.