Striking gold: men’s track and field become first Canadian team to win NAIA championships

The UBC track and field teams put on brilliant performances at the NAIA championships over the weekend of May 27 to wrap up the 2016/17 season.

For the men’s team, the meet ended in historic fashion as the ’Birds racked up 71 points to claim UBC’s first-ever NAIA championship. They are also the first Canadian team to claim the title in the NAIA.

“I have a tremendous amount of pride in this team. I certainly didn’t see us winning a national championship in only my second year here,” said UBC head coach Laurier Primeau.

While Primeau believed that there were many exceptional performances by the T-Birds, he recognized senior Lukas Jarron as the meet's standout athlete.

 “I think the MVP for us was Jarron,” said Primeau. “It’s extremely challenging to recover for the next race and yet, time and again, we sent him out there and he just came through when it was important.”

During the 4 x 800 metre relay, Jarron helped his team to a first-place finish by overtaking an Indiana Tech runner in the final 15 metres. The other athletes on Jarron's team were Max Trummer, Christopher Taylor and Rhys Kramer.

UBC Athletics

The women’s team, on the other hand, finished in fourth place with 41 points. They were only one point behind Southern University at New Orleans who claimed the bronze medal.

Prior to the final event — the 4 x 400 metre relay — the women's team had a nine-point lead over Southern NO. Unfortunately, due to UBC not having a team available for the race, Southern NO was able to pick up 10 points and pull ahead late in the championships to solidify a third-place finish.

Despite narrowly missing the podium, Primeau felt that the fourth-place finish for the women’s team was still impressive given the number of athletes that competed. Of the many athletes on UBC's track and field team, only 12 qualified for the national championship.

“That’s pretty remarkable,” said Primeau of the 'Birds small championship roster. “Generally speaking, the teams that are in the top four have significantly bigger rosters representing them at the NAIA championships.” 

On top of the other competing teams, the T-Birds had another tough opponent to battle: the heat and the humidity of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

 “We had a very cool winter, so these are not conditions that Pacific Northwest athletes are used to at all,” said Primeau. “All in all, I think our paramedical team and our athletes did a fantastic job in managing the conditions.” 

With the 2016/17 season now over, Primeau hopes that the athletes will get enough recovery time before the next season starts. 

“I think all of [the athletes] deserve a little bit of rest and recovery and to really savour what they’ve accomplished,” he said.