Athlétisme | McGill women capture first RSEQ championship in six years
Alana Battiston of Toronto won two gold medals, three silvers and a bronze en route to being named female athlete of the meet as McGill University captured the RSEQ women's track and field conference championship at Tomlinson Fieldhouse, Sunday.
It was McGill's first track title since the Martlets won in 2007, breaking a five-year stranglehold by Sherbrooke. The McGill women scored 126.5 points, to finish first of seven teams, just 9.5 points ahead of second-place Sherbrooke. The Martlets collected a meet-high 17 medals, five of them gold, along with seven silvers and five bronzes.
All gold medalists automatically qualified for the CIS championship meet in Edmonton, March 7-9.
"It's been way too long between titles and its gotten tougher through the years but Battiston came up big for us and we had some new kids on the block that have stepped up and scored points that we weren't banking on before the meet," said McGill mentor Dennis Barrett, who was named RSEQ coach of the year on the women's side. "It was a dog-fight the whole way and that's the way we expected it would be."
The event was a shining moment for Battiston, who turned 25 a few weeks ago and graduated with a science degree in 2011 but returned to McGill last fall to complete another degree after a one-year sabbatical.
The fifth-year senior, majoring in dietetics, accounted for 28 points, or 22.1 per cent of McGill's total in the team scoring. She won both the 60-metre hurdles (9.19 seconds) and the pentathlon with a school record 3,515 points. It currently ranks as the third-highest pentathlon score in the CIS this season. Battiston finished second in the 600m and also helped the Martlets gain second-place finishes in both the 4x400m and 4x800m relays. She was third in the shot put with a toss of 10.44m.
"We only had a two-point lead over Sherbrooke after the 3k race and it was a little but nerve-wracking (heading into the final three events) but Alana was the hero for us," said team captain and recently-named Rhodes scholar Sarah McCuaig, a microbiology senior from Waterloo, Ont., who scored 18.25 points herself, including gold in the 1500m in 4:42.70. "She did well in every event and that was the difference."
Another member of the Martlets to finish atop the podium were Caroline Tanguay of St. Hubert, Que., who won the high jump with a leap of 1.71m. Also, the 4x200 relay squad won gold (1:44.26) with a quartet that featured Sarah Glen of Lunenburg, N.S., in leadoff, followed by Australian Clare Williams, Ellen Parker of Halifax and Helena Reinfels of Puslinch, Ont.
On the men's side, Sherbrooke racked up 164.5 points to win the league banner, well ahead of second-place Laval (100) and third-place McGill (84.5).
Sherbrooke's Olivier Huot was honoured as male athlete of the meet, winning both the pentathlon and triple jump, in addition to a pair of second-place finishes in the 60m hurdles and the high jump. He also received kudos during the awards ceremony for producing the season's most outstanding performance in a field event.
Only two Quebec conference records fell during the meet and both were accomplished by Sherbrooke's Marc-Antoine Dugas who garnered a pair of golds, breaking the RSEQ mark in the weight throw (19.38m) and the shot put (16.71).
The Redmen won gold in three events, led by Vincent Parent-Pichette, a marketing freshman from St. Paul de Joliette, Que., who won the 1000m (2:27.39) and also anchored the winning 4x800 relay squad. That foursome also included Benjamin Raymond of Laval, Que., in leadoff, followed by Nathan Goldstein of Newmarket, Ont., and Michael Abramson of Westmount, Que.
Also golden for the Redmen was Riley van Ryswyk, an electrical engineering sophomore from Surrey, B.C., who cleared a height of 4.31m in the pole vault.
McGill will be sending 16-20 athletes to the CIS championships next week.
"We don't quite yet have enough top-end athletes where we could do some damage at Nationals. We'll field a good team but our objective would be to gain some experience, pick up some points, perhaps get a couple of medals and finish in the Top 10."
McGill's best medal hopefuls are expected to be on the women's side, with Battiston in the pentathlon, Tanguay in the high jump and perhaps McCuaig, who has been battling some health issues most of the season.
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