Home > The Scene

Meet the Canadian Track and Field League’s top draft picks

Alexandra Telford, a 400m hurdler from Ottawa, was the first overall selection by the Arctics in the CTFL Draft

The new Canadian Track and Field League (CTFL) held its inaugural draft on April 19. The captains and general managers of the four teams each selected 32 athletes from the free-agent pool to compete for the CTFL championship. The Arctics captain, Brandon McBride, had the first overall selection of the draft, selecting Alexandra Telford, a 400m hurdler from Ottawa, Ont. 

The CTFL was founded by Ottawa’s Quinn Lyness with the goal of improving the track and field landscape in Canada for all athletes, coaches and fans. The league has two goals: to bring more content to fans and help build the sport of track and field in Canada, and to help athletes financially by providing them with a platform for them to use to build their brand.

This is how the CTFL’s point system works:

  • Athletes will accumulate points throughout the season based on the World Athletics point system.
  • There are two types of athletes: core and utility. 
    • Core athletes will be required to compete at a minimum of one preliminary meet and the championship to win cash prizes.
    • Utility athletes can compete at any meet around the world and their best four meet results will count towards their team total before the CTFL championship.
  • The top three athletes with the most points at the end of the regular season will receive individual prize money, and the top team at the end of the championship will go home with the CTFL trophy and $1,000. 

Here’s a recap of the top picks for each team in the CTFL draft:

The Arctics (Brandon McBride)

Round 1 (Pick 1): Alexandra Telford 

A surprise first overall to many, Telford has had a breakout indoor season for Carleton University. She won bronze over 300m at the Canadian U Sports Championships last month in Saint John, N.B., and ended off her 2021 track and field season with a personal best in her event, the 400m hurdles. Telford has made serious progression throughout the winter and indoor season, and will be prone to post a personal best when she hits the track this spring. 

Round 2 (Pick 8): Sasha Gollish

The women’s 40+ indoor mile world record holder will compete for the Arctics in the women’s 1,500m. Gollish brings her experience and speed to the Arctics as the 2015 Pan-American Games 1,500m bronze medallist, who holds a PB of 4:07.08. In February, she ran a 4:38 indoor mile to break the previous women’s 40+ world record by six seconds.

Round 3 (Pick 9): Courtney Hufsmith (utility) 

During her five years at the University of Saskatchewan, Hufsmith had a lot of success in cross-country and indoor track, winning a U Sports silver medal in the 1,500m in 2019. Hufsmith holds a personal best of 4:10.25 from 2019 and she’ll look to chase the world 1,500m standard of 4:04.20 for this 2022 season. 

The Bears (Aaron Brown)

Round 1 (Pick 2): Roxroy Cato 

Roxroy Cato is a two-time 400m hurdles Olympian who represented Jamaica at the Rio and London Olympics. Cato boasts a 400m hurdles PB of 48.48 from 2014 and has shown that even at age 34, he is near his best form, clocking a 50.26 in Jamaica last summer. Cato will be the only Olympian in the CTFL that is competing as a core athlete. 

Round 2 (Pick 7): Sarah Mitton (utility)

Sarah Mitton represented Canada in the shot put at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, placing 28th. She also represented Canada at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, just missing out on reaching the final. Earlier that year, she won a gold medal at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. Mitton carries an 18.89-metre personal best and will be looking to better that on the international stage this season. 

Round 3 (Pick 10): Sage Watson (utility) 

Photo: Athletics Canada

Two-time 400m hurdles Olympian Sage Watson will look to bring the Bears her experience and talent as she hopes to reach the final of a world championship this season. 2022 is a year to bounce back for the 2019 Pan-American Games gold medallist, who just missed out on the Olympic 400m hurdles final in Toyko. Watson holds a personal best of 54.32 in the hurdles, which she ran at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Spitfires (Tim Nedow)

Round 1 (Pick 3): Corey Bellemore

Although the CTFL won’t have the beer mile distance, the beer mile world record holder holds a 3:39.36 personal best in the 1,500m and will be a top contributor as a core athlete on the Spitfires team. Bellemore recently finished seventh in 4:12 at the B.A.A. road mile, as part of the Boston Marathon weekend festivities. Bellemore was a U Sports champion in the 4x800m during his five-year tenure at the University of Windsor. 

Round 2 (Pick 6): Marco Arop (utility)

Marco Arop (right) and Brandon McBride (left) after the 800m final at the NACAC Championships in 2018

Canadian 800m Olympian Marco Arop held the highest World Athletics ranking before the CTFL draft. Arop made the semi-final in the 800m at the Tokyo Olympics and the final at the 2022 World Indoor Championship in March. He also took home multiple wins over 800m on the Diamond League last season. Arop will be an important utility piece for The Spitfires this CTFL season. 

Round 3 (Pick 11): Shyvonne Roxborough

The former University of Guelph sprinter, Shyvonne Roxborough, won multiple OUA and U Sports gold and silver medals throughout her five-year stint with the Gryphons. The Ottawa, Ont. native currently trains with the Ottawa Lions Track Club and holds a personal best of 11.40 seconds in the women’s 100m.

The Huskies (Melissa Bishop-Nriagu)

Round 1 (Pick 4): Leewinchell Jean

Leewinchell Jean is a 400m hurdler for the University of Windsor who holds a personal best of 52.86 seconds in the discipline. Jean represented Canada’s U20 team at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Costa Rica, where he finished sixth in his heat. Jean looks to bring The Huskies his speed and potential ahead of the 2022 CTFL season. 

Round 2 (Pick 5): Alec Purnell 

Photo: Kevin MacKinnon

University of Guelph’s Alec Purnell is coming off a successful U Sports indoor season, winning two individual silvers in the 1,000m and 1,500m and a 4x800m relay gold to help Guelph bring home their eighth straight men’s indoor championship. Purnell will compete for the Huskies in the men’s 1,500m, where he carries a personal best of 3:47.50 from 2021. He recently kicked off his 2022 outdoor season with a 4:02 mile in Delaware on April 9.

Round 3 (Pick 12): Helena Jovic 

University of Toronto’s Helena Jovic was the fifth 400m hurdler taken in the first three rounds. Jovic holds a 400m hurdles personal best of 59.97 from 2019. She also represented Canada at the U20 Pan-Am Games in 2019, where she finished eighth in the final. Like Jean, she also brings The Huskies team a lot of potential for the CTFL season. 

The league will kick things off in Montreal on May 21, followed by a meet in London, Ont. on May 28. The final prelim meet of the season will be held at Ottawa’s Terry Fox Athletics Complex on June 15, before the same venue hosts the CTFL championship on July 20.

Follow the Canadian Track and Field League on Instagram and check out their website for all the latest news. 

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

The best winter running socks for 2024

Here you'll find the perfect pair for any and all winter running conditions