A total of 11 athletes and three relay teams posted provisional qualifying times at the Seattle meet this past weekend, sparking hopes of success in 2017 for the Clan.
Speaking to The Peak following the event, head coach Brit Townsend said, “There are a few events where we look like we’re going to be pretty good. We’re currently ranked number one in the women’s DMR [distance medley relay] in the nation right now, so it’s very unlikely we’re going to drop out of the qualifying spots. Also, their time is five seconds faster than the qualifying time from last year, so I think we’re safe in that event.
“We feel pretty confident about Addy [Townsend] too — she’s 11th right now with a time of 4:54.60, but 4:58 qualified last year,” Townsend continued. “We also had a whole bunch of provisional times, too, from the likes of Katherine Lucas and Daniel Kelloway. They’re not quite there yet in terms of time, but they’re on the ranking list now and we have other competitions they’re going to.”
The team was also forced to overcome the challenge of enduring a month without an adequate track facility during the winter break, as the weather played havoc with the group’s preparation for the indoor season. Townsend, therefore, was unsurprisingly pleased with the efforts of her squad.
“The indoor season is short and fast. We really reiterated that. In the first meet out, they had to really go for it because you lose an opportunity otherwise.
“We struggled over the holidays with the weather — we ran in the AQ, or we were on the treadmills for hard workouts. We had to adapt and keep people inspired and motivated. We can adapt to different things as long as that effort and intensity is there. We were pleasantly surprised when we got that first meet under our belt.”
With their campaign now underway, a number of Clan athletes will have their eyes on securing a berth at the NCAA Indoor Nationals in Alabama at the beginning of March. The strength in depth that has emerged in the SFU team is a factor that has not escaped the attention of Townsend, who is hoping their early season potential can translate into a successful season on the national stage.
“We had more provisional qualifiers than we’ve ever had, so that just shows the overall depth of our team has improved dramatically. Katherine Lucas and Nathan Mah have been two great additions to our program this year. Addy, as a sophomore, ran a really great time, and Carlos Vargas ran a five-second personal best to be in with a chance of qualifying. Those kids are starting to show some good things.”
Townsend also praised runners who already have had good qualifying marks such as Daniel Kelloway and Chantel Desch.
“You’ve also got the likes of Daniel Kelloway, Chantel Desch, Joel Webster — honestly, a few more tenths off, and they’re right in contention as well.
“We had 11 qualify last year and that was our best ever. If we can get up and around that, then that’ll be fantastic.”