Thunderbirds wrap up season in Indiana

Published by Devin Rajala
May 29th 2012, 1:36am | 1201 views

Thunderbirds wrap up season in Indiana


UBC track and field head coach Marek Jedrzejek is calling a third consecutive trip to Marion, Indiana, for the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field championships, a ‘successful competition’.  The birds came away with several podium performances – in addition, various athletes reached NAIA All-American status by clinching top 8 performances in their respective events. The women’s team placed 7th out of 54 teams with a total combined score of 39 points, while the men’s team came in 22nd out of 63 teams with a total of 12 points.


“Our women’s team exceeded expectations with a 7th place finish. Coming into the competition, we thought a realistic goal would be a top 10 finish. We had two freshmen, Maria Bernard and Devan Wiebe, place in the top 3, which is phenomenal. Next year, we will be looking even stronger”, said Jedrzejek.


“For our men’s team, it was a rebuilding year. Ben Thorne kept up our race-walk tradition and won the 5km race-walk as a freshman. Quite a few of our men were at the NAIA Track and Field championships for the first time and I think they gained a lot of experience. I expect our men distance runners to be very strong in the next few years.”


Day 1 Recap:


Day 1 began with the 1500m run trials for the men. Luc Bruchet, Jordan Smith and Tim Huebsch all ended up in the same heat. Huebsch took the race out in a fast pace in order to open up qualifying spots to the final. His selfless racing tactics worked out well as Bruchet and Smith moved onto the final with 2 of the 3 next fastest times.


The women’s javelin competition was an eye-opener and a start of good things to come for UBC freshman, Christine Ausman. She walked away with her head held high after missing the finals and will look to follow in the footsteps of Olympic bound Tbird alumni javelin thrower, Elizabeth Gleadle.


Anne-Mari Nano ran 63.91 to qualify for the semifinals in the women’s 400m hurdles.


The women’s 4x800m team looked very impressive in qualifying with the top time into the final. Heather Slinn ran a strong leg close to her personal-best time.


A young men’s 4x800m team showed their lack of experience with a few tactical errors and did not advance to the final. The team had three runners making their first appearance at NAIA’s: Jack Williams, Simon Bill and Devin Rajala.


Justin Kent played out a smart race in the men’ 3km steeplechase and kicked down to secure a spot into Saturday’s final.


Day 2 Recap:


The second day of competition started off on a high note as freshman race-walker, Ben Thorne, walked his way to a gold medal. Thorne sat in the lead pack until making a move with two laps to go in the race. His win continues the tradition of race-walking excellence for the T-birds. The first-year will now turn his attention to the IAAF World Junior Championships taking place in Barcelona, Spain.


Devan Wiebe demonstrated her impressive closing speed by splitting 68, 64 to advance to the women’s 800m final.


Anne-Mari Nano drew lane 9 in the semifinals of the women’s 400m hurdles. Nano closed out her track career as a UBC Thunderbird in a time of 64.61. Another T-bird making her final appearance at NAIA nationals was triple-jumper Erin Templeton. ‘ET’ went out with a bang by placing 5th and jumping just shy of her personal best. Her performance earned her a spot as an NAIA All-American.


The women’s 4x800m team made a bold statement with a silver medal performance. The team comprised of senior Mariah Robinson, sophomore Heather Slinn, freshman Devan Wiebe and freshman Maria Bernard. Their time of 8:58 broke the previous UBC school record.


Theo Hunt accomplished his goal and grabbed one of the last spots into the 5km finals in a time of 15:26.20. Jackie Regan easily moved into the women’s 5km final.


Day 3 Recap:


Four UBC marathoners were up early on the final day of competition to take to the roads of Marion, Indiana. Tim Smith was the lone T-bird male competing in the marathon. Smith got out to a good start on the 42.2km course and found himself within the top five runners throughout the early part of the race. Fatigue hit him in the final ten kilometers of the race and the St. Georges grad ended up slipping outside the top ten to finish in 18th spot in a time of two hours and forty-two minutes- a solid racing experience for Smith and a sign of good things to come for next year. Sarah Reimer ran a superb race and was rewarded with a spot on the podium. Her time of two hours and fifty-eight minutes was good enough for third place. Her teammate Nelly Amenyogbe made up significant ground in the later part of the race to earn NAIA All-American status and earn valuable team points for the third year in a row. Running in her first marathon ever, Lissa Zimmer cracked the top 15 with a 14th place finish in a time of three hours and sixteen minutes.


In what turned out to be the hottest and most humid day of the entire competition, two sophomores battled the humidity to place among the top ten in the men and women’s steeplechase. Justin Kent turned in a solid performance in the men’s 3km steeple finishing just outside the points in 9th spot. Micha Gutmanis also took 9th place in the women’s 3km steeplechase.


Both 1500m run finals had two Thunderbirds competing: the women’s race featured Maria Bernard and Heather Slinn, while the men’s race featured Luc Bruchet and Jordan Smith. Bernard was very impressive as she finished with a silver-medal in a time of 4:31.68. Her teammate, Slinn, whom challenged for the lead at one point during the race, ran to a new personal-best time of 4:36.08- good enough for 6th place. The men’s race was a quick one as Silas Kisorio, a senior at Oklahoma Christian, won the race in a new meet record of 3:41.39. Bruchet ran a gutsy race in following the pace of the leaders early- he was rewarded with NAIA All-American status and a seasonal best time of 3:50.52. Meanwhile, Smith held back before kicking on the final lap to earn a 3 second personal-best with a 3:50.95.


The women’s 800m run was a good one for freshman and Vancouver-native; Devan Wiebe. She brought home a bronze medal in a new personal-best time of 2:10.10 to go with the silver-medal she earned in the 4x800m relay.


Another freshman making waves was Jackie Regan. She came into the women’s 5km competition with a ranking outside the top 20. Not only did she qualify for the final, Regan placed 7th earning herself All-American honours. The final race of the day for the t-birds was the men’s 5km where senior Theo Hunt, made his final appearance as a Thunderbird. Hunt came in 15th place. He was a 2xNAIA cross-country national qualifier and 2xNAIA track qualifier for the birds.



Complete Results and Meet Coverage are available at:

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