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Canadian Track and Field League returns for another season

Here is a breakdown of the teams and a preview of who to follow for the 2023 Canadian Track and Field League season

Photo by: Davis Rutledge

After much success in 2022, the Canadian Track and Field League (CTFL) is back for another season, with two added meets in Calgary and Guelph, Ont. Last year, the Bears won the inaugural CTFL title, but now the league has doubled in size (from 128 to 232 athletes) and has two new events–the sprint hurdles and the 5,000m.

Photo: Davis Rutledge

The league is composed of four teams, led by team captains and Olympians Melissa Bishop-Nriagu (Huskies), Aaron Brown (Bears), Brandon McBride (Arctics) and Pierce LePage (Spitfires). Each team will be comprised of 58 athletes competing across 10 total events: 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, 1500m, 5,000m shot put, long jump and sprint hurdles.

The basics

This year there will be six meets across Canada, starting in Calgary on May 13 and 14. The CTFL will make four other regular-season stops in Montreal (May 20), London (May 28), Guelph (June 21) and Ottawa (July 5 prelim), before the CTFL final in Ottawa on Aug. 5, where a new champion could be crowned.

Athletes will be able to accumulate points throughout the season based on the World Athletics point system, and individual and team winners will be rewarded based on the total points accumulated. 

Last season, Aaron Brown’s Bears won the title, finishing the CTFL season with 105,774 points. The Bears were led by Jamaican Olympian Roxroy Cato, who won CTFL gold in the 400m hurdles, clocking the fastest 400mH time on Canadian soil in 50.82 seconds.

2023 Team report

The Bears

The Bears are back, and willing to do whatever it takes to go back-to-back and defend their CTFL championship. In the 2023 CTFL draft, the Bears added some middle-distance artillery with their first two picks, drafting University of Guelph XC duo Nina Whitford and Sadie-Jane Hickson. Both athletes helped the Guelph Gryphons women’s cross-country and track and field teams win OUA titles.

Another sleeper draft pick for the Bears is 23-year-old Malachi Murray, a reserve on Canada’s 4x100m gold-medal-winning relay team at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Ore. Murray is one of Canada’s top up-and-coming sprinters, and has a 100m PB of 10.19 seconds.

Last year, the top performers were 2022 Commonwealth medallist Sarah Mitton and Cato, both of whom are set to return to the team for the 2023 season.

The Huskies

After finishing second in 2022, the Huskies had a strong draft class, adding Canadian 5,000m Olympian Julie-Anne Staehli with their first-round pick. They followed it up, picking 2022 Commonwealth Games medallist and hammer thrower Jillian Weir in the second round, followed by 5,000m runner Sergio Raez Villanueva, who finished top 10 at the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October in his marathon debut.

The Huskies were led last season by 1,500m runner Alec Purnell and 2022 CTFL MVP shot-putter Kaitlin Brooks. 

Shot putter Kaitlyn Brooks of the Huskies. Photo: Davis Rutledge

The Arctics 

The Arctics had a slow start to the 2022 season, but bounced back to finish third ahead of the Spitfires. 400m runner Michael Roth and 2016 Olympic hurdler Noelle Montcalm helped lead the charge, both finishing high up in CTFL MVP voting. 

In the 2023 draft, the Arctics added firepower in the short sprints, drafting former Canadian indoor 400m record holder Lauren Gale first overall and 2023 U Sports 60m champion Jacqueline Madogo in round five. The added sprint depth to their middle-distance strength will help The Arctics dominate the short-sprints all season long. 

The Spitfires

Despite world championship medallist Marco Arop leading the Spitfires in points, the team went from first to last during the 2022 CTFL season. The squad had many holes to fill in the distance events and the field heading into the 2023 CTFL draft, and reports say they might have had the best all-around draft class.

The addition of 1,500m runner Max Davies, who represented Canada last summer at the U20 World Championships in Colombia, in the fourth round is a steal. They also bolstered their middle-distance depth by adding 800m runner  Jazz Shukla with their first-round pick. The Spitfires are under a new team captain for the 2023 season as Canadian decathlete Pierce LePage hopes to land the team on the podium.

Marco Arop at the 2022 Canadian Track and Field Championships. Photo: Athletepics.ca

For the second straight season, New Balance Canada will sponsor the CTFL and provide support through its Give Back Program, with the mission to fund high school and elementary school track and field programs across Canada. New Balance will also be providing all athletes with CTFL singlets and gear.

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