Clan finish outdoor track season in Championship style

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While the Spring 2013 semester was wrapping up, the SFU Varsity track and field program was just getting underway with their outdoor season. In early April the team began their competitive season, traveling to Washington and California for a flurry of meets as they looked to qualify for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and NCAA Division II Championships.

They did just that as the Clan travelled to Monmouth, Oregon for their third GNAC Championship meet, walking away with three conference titles as the women placed sixth overall and the men finished in seventh place. Captain Helen Crofts won double gold, winning the 1500-metre and 400-metre events, breaking the conference record in the latter with a time of 54.46 seconds, only 26 minutes after her first medal.  Junior Jade Richardson took the Clan’s third title in the discus throw, her second consecutive conference championship in the event.

Lindsey Butterworth would take second place behind Crofts in the 1500-metre while Sarah Sawatzky and Michaela Kane finished second and fifth in the 800-metre, respectively. Freshman Chantel Desch had a strong weekend with a fifth place finish in the 400-metre and a sixth place finish in the 200-metre. Andrea Abrams would cross the line sixth in the 100-metre hurdles and Kansas Mackenzie finished eighth in the women’s 800-metres, while sophomore Ryley Carr had the fifth furthest toss in the hammer throw.

The men’s side was led by Travis Vugteveen, who nabbed a podium spot in the 1500-metre, placing third in a closely fought battle to the finish. Other notables on the men’s side came from captain Keir Forster who finished fourth in the 5,000-metre, and fifth-place finishes from Cameron Proceviat in the 800-metre race and James Young in the 1500-metre.

Luca Molinari and Ben Coles would finish in sixth and seventh positions in the hammer and javelin throws respectively before the exciting final events: the 4×400-metre relays. On the women’s side, the quartet of Crofts, Sawatzky, Kane and Desch combined for a second place finish, just moments behind GNAC rival Seattle Pacific University. Meanwhile, the seventh-seeded men’s team of Vugteveen, Proceviat, Zac Conard and Stuart Ellenwood improved three positions to finish fourth in the event.

The best was yet to come. In their first year eligible for the NCAA Division II Championships, the team qualified six women for the championship event in Palo Alto, Colorado and walked away with an individual NCAA Div. II title and three All-American awards.

In her final race in Clan colours, Crofts won the women’s 800-metre race, adding to her NCAA trophy collection having won the indoor 800-metre championship earlier in the year. The senior led the field through two laps before crossing the line on a hot spring afternoon in a time of 2:08.18 minutes.

“This was a great way to finish my Clan career,” said Crofts. “Winning this title was my goal at the beginning of the season, and I am so happy that as a group we showed how strong we are together.”

Her teammates Butterworth and Sawatzky were not far behind as the juniors finished in All-Amercian positions of fourth and sixth to close their impressive seasons. Kane had raced in the 800-metre preliminaries but did not qualify for the final.

The Clan also ran the 4×400-metre relay at the championships, as Crofts, Kane, Desch and Sawatzky combined for an eleventh place finish that was just short of qualifying for the final. In the field, Richardson made the final in the women’s discus finishing just outside All-American position in ninth place as the Clan finished their historic meet in fourteenth place out of 58 schools.

It was a successful summer for the Clan track and field program, and a number of the team’s athletes will look to continue that success this fall as they transition into cross-country season, where both the men’s and women’s sides will have a good shot at qualifying for the National Championships.