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Canadians grab wins, PBs at Texas Qualifier track meet

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford and Justyn Knight led the Canadian contingent in Austin on Saturday, both taking wins in the 1,500m

Top athletes lined up to race in Austin, Texas, at the Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier track meet over the weekend. While the fields were overwhelmingly American, eight Canadians raced, with several running to big results, including 1,500m wins from Toronto natives Gabriela DeBues-Stafford and Justyn Knight

1,500m wins

Canadian indoor 800m and 1,000m record holder Jenna Westaway of London, Ont., joined DeBues-Stafford in the women’s 1,500m. DeBues-Stafford won the race in 4:10.09, finishing just ahead of her Bowerman Track Club teammate Sinclaire Johnson, who placed second in 4:10.75.

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This is DeBues-Stafford’s second win in as many runs to start the season, adding to her victory at a 3,000m race earlier in February. Westaway finished in seventh in 4:18.87. 

Like DeBues-Stafford, Knight also continued his undefeated season, and the Texas Qualifier 1,500m was his second race of 2021. He stopped the clock in 3:36.62, just in front of second place and about half a second off his PB of 3:36.07 from 2018. 

“I felt really relaxed out there,” Knight told FloTrack after the race. He noted that he and the leaders fell off the pace a bit, ultimately falling short of the Olympic qualifying time of 3:35.00, but added that “at the end of the day, I think race tactics-wise, I did a good job of just executing to win.” 

Knight said he is done competing for the winter season, and now he has his sights set on spring races with the hope of competing at Diamond League meets ahead of the summer.

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Staehli’s 5,000m PB 

Julie-Anne Staehli of Lucknow, Ont., ran the women’s 5,000m, and she was coming off a huge result from the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, where she ran a Canadian 3,200m record of 9:22.66. As she wrote on Instagram before the race, her goal was the Olympic standard of 15:10. 

Staehli wasn’t able to hit standard, but she did shave 15 seconds off her PB with an eighth-place finish in 15:32.46. “I left it all on the track,” she wrote on Instagram after the meet. “A new PB, but I know I have a faster time in me.” 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLzbbpKjHsw/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Ben Flanagan of Kitchener, Ont., and Vancouver’s Kieran Lumb both raced the men’s 5,000m. Flanagan finished in sixth in 13:44.87 and Lumb ran to eighth in 13:57.80. 

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A hot 10K 

All of the athletes competing in Austin had to deal with hot and humid conditions, but the runners who suffered most had to be those who raced the 10,000m, as they battled for half an hour. In his season debut, Rory Linkletter ran 30:24.26, finishing well off his PB of 28:12.42. More than half of the men’s 10,000m field dropped out during the race, and although it was clear Linkletter was going to clock a disappointing time, he carried on to the finish. 

In the women’s race, Lanni Marchant lined up for her first 10,000m since 2016, when she represented Canada at the Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, she didn’t finish the race, but after a couple of years away from racing, it’s exciting for Canadian fans to see her back in action in recent months. 

For full results from the Texas Qualifier, click here