The 2018 U Sports track and field conference championships are taking place in four venues (one for each U Sport conference) across the country on the weekend of Feb. 23-24.
The top athlete in each event from the RSEQ (Quebec) and AUS (Atlantic) conferences, and the top-two athletes in each event from the OUA (Ontario) and Canada West (Western Canada) conferences will automatically qualify for the U Sports national championship in Windsor, Ont. on March 7-10. Athletes can also qualify for the championship by running faster than U Sports standard times, as well as by being ranked in the national top-12 in a specific event.
Being distance running nerds, Canadian Running takes an in-depth look into the four middle-distance and distance events offered (600m to 3,000m) on the U Sports track circuit, while predicting the top-three finishers in each race. The RSEQ Championships are being held in Sherbrooke, Que.
The RSEQ conference’s middle-distance and distance events are dominated by Laval University. A few usual suspects, like Nicolas Morin and Aurélie Dubé-Lavoie, combine forces with standout rookies Jessy Lacourse and Jean-Simon Desgagnés to form an endurance powerhouse. But, will Kevin Robertson of Montreal, Maité Bouchard of Sherbrooke, or even François Jarry of McGill rain on the Rouge et Or parade?
Maité Bouchard stands in a league of her own. She is the reigning U Sports 600m champion, and currently gaps the second RSEQ seed by nearly four seconds. Emma Galbraith and Catherine Gagné, both of Laval, and Jade Bouchard-Nguyen of Montreal are looking to leapfrog their way into U Sports top-12, so expect the race behind Bouchard to be fast.
1 – Maite Bouchard – Sherbrooke
2 – Emma Galbraith – Laval
3 – Jade Bouchard-Nguyen – Montreal
Sebastian Saville was the revelation of the early season. The senior for the Carleton Ravens dropped a blistering 1:17.45 on Jan. 20, and his mark still stands as the best one in the country. Though he is not as much a sure win as Bouchard is on the women’s side – due to a few strong showings by Sherbrooke’s Yassine Aber – Saville is still a lock for first place. Aber will battle for silver with a few [Laval] Rouge et Or men.
1 – Sebastian Saville – Carleton
2 – Yassine Aber – Sherbrooke
3 – Vincent Duguay – Laval
As is the case with many middle- and distance races in the RSEQ, the women’s 1,000m will be dominated by Laval. Three Rouge et Or women have run 2:47 and change this year, and they are expected to work together to sweep the podium. Recent performances show that they are quite interchangeable. Emma Galbraith is our favourite to win, as her teammates may split their focus over several races. We give second place to Jessy Lacourse over Catherine Gagné, mostly because her last name translates from French to “the race.” If anybody spoils Laval’s sweep, it will be Bouchard-Nguyen.
1 – Emma Galbraith – Laval
2 – Jessy Lacourse – Laval
3 – Catherine Gagne – Laval
Nicolas Morin has spent years chasing down [Olympian] Charles Philibert-Thiboutot and brushing shoulders with Alex Bussières, and he is stronger for it. The Laval senior has become a mainstay on the 1,000m scene, and it looks like he will get a third consecutive kick at the U Sports can. His teammates will help him sweep the podium, but the pecking order is clear: Morin, and then everybody else.
1 – Nicolas Morin – Laval
2 – David Gendreau-Fillion – Laval
3 – Alexandre Levesque – Laval
Jessy Lacourse and Aurélie Dubé-Lavoie will battle for this one. We give the edge to Lacourse because Dubé-Lavoie might be buried under more mileage in preparation for the FISU [World University] cross-country championship, which happens in April. The teammates have run within decimals of each other this year. Both are in the U Sports top-12, but expect them to try and set up a fast race for their teammate Anne-Marie Gauthier, who is currently ranked 18th.
1 – Jessy Lacourse – Laval
2 – Aurelie Dube-Lavoie – Laval
3 – Anne-Marie Gauthier – Laval
The men’s metric mile will feature a young Carabin of l’Université de Montréal determined to put a stop to the Rouge et Or’s dominance. Rookie Kevin Robertson is the owner of a 3:44.90 outdoor PB, and can race with the best. To win, however, he will have to slay Laval’s most powerful dragons. Morin is an experienced and accomplished 1,500m runner, and Jean-Simon Desgagnés has been lights out this year. What Robertson might have over the duo, however, is undivided focus on the 1,500m that weekend.
1 – Kevin Robertson – Montreal
2 – Nicolas Morin – Laval
3 – Jean-Simon Desgagnes – Laval
Lacourse will likely pull off the 1,500m-3,000m double. Her seasonal best of 9:22.01 should clear her from the rest of the field, and make her competitive for a medal at U Sports. She currently ranks fifth in the nation [among university-eligible runners]. Senior Gauthier is ranked two spots behind Lacourse in U Sports, and is a lock for second place. Dubé-Lavoie could complete the sweep for the Rouge et Or, but Sherbrooke’s Gabrielle Desharnais-Prefontaine could play spoiler.
1 – Jessy Lacourse – Laval
2 – Anne-Marie Gauthier – Laval
3 – Gabrielle Desharnais-Prefontaine – Sherbrooke
On the Friday night of the McGill Team Challenge in late January, Jean-Simon DesGagnés announced his arrival on the varsity track and field circuit. The rookie runner beat everyone in a deep 3,000m field and cruised to a time of 8:14.52. Still now, none of his veteran teammates have been able to match that mark. He enters the competition as a heavy favourite. François Jarry of McGill University, perhaps the most decorated athlete in the field, has yet to find his stride this year. The masters in education student has a PB of 8:18.79, and is the dark horse. Cross-country specialist Dany Racine, however, is a safer pick for second place.
1 – Jean-Simon DesGagnés – Laval
2 – Dany Racine – Laval
3 – Francois Jarry – McGill
Read our OUA (Ontario) preview here and stay tuned for AUS and Canada West.