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Biggest surprises of the 2018 U Sports Conference Championships

We go back and see which U Sports track and field athletes challenged last week's predictions and exceeded our expectations

U Sports Track

The 2018 U Sports conference championships took place on the weekend of Feb. 23, and while some athletes across the four conferences (OUA, AUS, Canada West and RSEQ) lived up to our expectations, others completely shocked their field and flipped our predictions upside down. Here is a shortlist of surprise performers from each conference championship. All athletes listed have qualified for the U Sports national championship of March 7-10, in Windsor, Ont.

Canada West

Royden Radowitz (Alberta)

Where we had him:
N/A, 1,500m
N/A, 3,000m

Where he finished:
Gold – 1,500m
Gold – 3,000m

Radowitz was by far our biggest snub. A strong Canada West conference made for a few unpredictable distance races on the men’s side. Impressively, the third-year runner for Alberta topped the 1,500m and 3,000m fields while registering quick times. For the record, we did mention that he was a dark horse, but dark horses usually do not make a mockery of a conference.

Julianne Labach (Saskatchewan)

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Where we had her:
Gold, 600m
Bronze, 1,000m
Bronze, 1,500m

Where she finished:
Gold, 600m
Gold, 1,000m
Silver, 1,500m

We do not feel nearly as bad about this one. Who could have predicted that the fourth-year Husky would rob Regan Yee of a distance trifecta and take home top spot in the 1,000m, while also spreading her focus across three races? Her second-place finish over Melissa Jones and Courtney Hufsmith also merits praise.

Tyler Smith (Victoria)

U Sports Track and Field Championships
Photo: U Sports.

Where we had him:
Gold, 600m
N/A, 1,000m

Where he finished:
Gold, 600m
Gold, 1,000m

Sure, Smith did not have the seed times to foreshadow the 600m-1,000m double win. What he did have, however, was the pedigree. A national team member and U Sports medallist, we should have known better than to count Smith out of contention for the 1,000m. With U Sports in two weeks, Smith has come to play at the right time.

RSEQ

Aurélie Dubé-Lavoie (Laval)

Patience. It’s all about patience 🙏🏻

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Where we had her:
Silver, 1,500m
N/A, 3,000m

Where she finished:
Silver, 1,500m
Silver, 3,000m

Dubé-Lavoie proved to be too strong to miss out on a podium spot. While her teammate, Jessy Lacourse, was the performer of the meet by winning both the 1,500m and 3,000m, the FISU world university cross-country team member was not far behind. Her times qualify her for both races at U Sports.

Nicolas Morin (Laval)

Where we had him:
Gold, 1,000m
Silver, 1,500m

Where he finished:
Gold, 1,000m
Gold, 1,500m

OK, this one was not much of a snub. But, how did we predict anybody else for the win in the 1,500? What were we thinking? Morin has been winning the RSEQ 1,500m for longer than we can remember. In fact, the only runner to beat him in this very race since 2015 is 2016 Olympian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot. Enough said.

Yassine Aber (Sherbrooke)

Where we had him:
Silver, 600m

Where he finished:
Gold, 600m

Same deal. Not a huge snub on our part, but Aber’s performance is worth mentioning. The 600m conference win seemed to be locked up by Sebastian Saville of Carleton ever since he dropped a mad time of 1:17.45 in January. Despite not having run within a second of that time, Aber came up when it mattered, dipping Saville at the line and inching him by a few thousandths of a second. Clutch.

OUA

Dana Earhart (Guelph)

Where we had her:
N/A

Where she finished:
Silver, 1,500m
Bronze, 3,000m

The sophomore might have been overshadowed by Stafford, Gollish, Smith and a slew of Gryphon teammates during the season. The OUA is so deep that new talent often goes unnoticed. Earhart however made enough noise to turn some heads over the weekend, snagging medals from a number of runners many years her senior.

AUS

Allie Flower (St. FX)

Where we had her:
Bronze, 600m

Where she finished:
Silver, 600m

We had in fact only ranked Flower third IF Dalhousie’s Michelle Reddy was not to race. Reddy entered the 600m and won, and Flower crossed the line not far behind for second place. It is worth mentioning that Flower also took home gold in the 300m.

Hudson Grimshaw-Surette (Dalhousie)

Where we had him:
Silver, 600m
N/A, 1,000m

Where he finished:
Gold, 600m
Gold, 1,000m

This one, we regret. The end of the Dalhousie Tiger’s blonde locks crossed the finish line before any runner’s nose in both the 600m and the 1,000m. In our defence, Grimshaw-Surette is a rookie and, historically, first-year runners can be unpredictable in championship races. This one, however, is now a proven gamer.