LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western will begin a new era in Spartans track and field this spring, with director and head coach Shane Wiebe set to lead the men’s and women’s teams into the 2019 campaign, starting Saturday in Seattle at the University of Washington Indoor Preview.
With an almost entirely new coaching staff leading the team – assistant Jamie Sinclair is the lone coach who returned from last year – the Spartans look primed for a strong season with both the men’s and women’s teams returning an impressive core of athletes. While indeed the loss of the now graduated Regan Yee, who left TWU as its most decorated individual sport athlete in the schools history, will be felt, there remains plenty of both star power and depth to be optimistic that Wiebe will help the program take major steps forward this season.
All told, the Spartans have five of last year’s seven Canada West medal-winning athletes returning, including Madison Evans (Calgary; Pole Vault – Silver), Mowa Adeleye (Calgary; Triple Jump – Silver), Rachel Jerome (Ladysmith, B.C.; Long Jump – Bronze), David Boyd (Victoria; Pole Vault – Bronze) and Mirelle Martens (Grande Prairie, Alta.; 3000m – Bronze). Two of the four members of the U SPORTS bronze-medal winning men’s 4x800m team – James Lam (Langley) and Tyler Dejong (Langley) – also return.
Beyond that, TWU returns four other athletes who earned fourth place finishes at last year’s conference meet, including Denzel Brown (Coquitlam, B.C.; Triple Jump), Chris Weiss (West Vancouver, B.C.; Heptathlon), Grace Konrad (Edmonton; 300m) Nick Colyn (Langley; 3000m) and Lam (Langley; 1500m). The medal-winning Adeleye (60m Hurdles) and Boyd (60m Hurdles) also picked up fourth-place results.
With the likes of middle distance stars Caleb de (Winnipeg), who is coming off a sixth-place finish at the U SPORTS Cross Country Championships and second-year Jouen Chang (Langley), who was the BC Junior Cross Country Champion this past fall, also set for improved indoor campaigns, TWU’s track contingent is set for another strong season. Add to that fifth-year Aidan Kits (Langley), whose 600m performances could well put him in the mix for medals at the conference meet, fourth-year Joanna Williams (Campbell River, B.C.), who was fifth overall in the 3000m at last year’s Canada West championships and up-and-coming third-year Jennifer Shannon (Burnaby, B.C.), who is working her way into becoming a 1000m threat, and there is excitement abound when it comes to this year’s squad.
The twin duo of Julie and Christina Sevsek – the latter of which was TWU’s top performer at this year’s SPORTS Cross Country Championships – are also starting to find their way and will be ones to watch as they compete in their second season at the university level.
With a rising sprint contingent, the likes of second-year Ben Tjernagel (New Westminster, B.C.) , who was the 200m BC High School Champion coming out of high school, is ready to take another step this season, and will be joined by a strong group, including first-year athletes Praise Olatoke, who arrives via Glasgow, Scotland, Kenny Blackman Jr. (Surrey, B.C.), who won the 100m at last year’s BC High School Championships and Kevin Hughes (Langley), who captured gold in the 400m at the 2018 BC High School Championships.
Beyond the track, a strength of the Spartans side will once again be in the pole vault pit, with Evans and Boyd joined, amongst others, by fourth-year pole vaulter Giovanni Hernandez (Tepic, Mexico), who looks to be returning to the form that once saw him clear a personal record 5.20m.
Amongst the multi-eventers, heptathlete Domenic Lucccok (Delta, B.C.) will join Weiss as medal threats at the Canada West Championships, while Sophie Pauls (Vancouver) and Jordyn Piercy (Victoria) will also be in the mix in the pentathlon.
COACH SHANE WIEBE
“We’re all really looking forward to the start of the season. In the last number of weeks, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of improvement – technical improvement, strength improvement and speed improvement. We had a fantastic training camp in Kamloops, B.C. and now everyone is itching to get going. I’m very optimistic about this year. I think we have a strong group of talented athletes who I think are really going to impress.
“As a team, we’re in a healthy place and I think we have seen the team buy into a renewed vision with some new parameters. Part of that has been thanks to the great work that my assistant coaches have been doing and everyone has been pleased with some of the new ideas and direction that we’ve put into place. I sense a really positive energy flowing from the team.”
BY THE NUMBERS
2018 Canada West Finish: Men’s: 3rd Place | Women’s: 4th Place
2018 U SPORTS Finish: Men’s: 11th Place | Women’s: 11th Place
Last Canada West Championship: Men’s: 2017 | Women’s: 2015
Total Canada West Championships: Men’s: 1 | Women’s: 2
Best U SPORTS Championship Result: Men’s: 7th (2015) | Women’s: 2nd (2015)
Recognized for quality, TWU has received seven consecutive A+ rankings for Quality of Teaching and Learning, holds three Canada Research Chairs, and wins national championships in CIS sports. More importantly, lives are changed at TWU through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education. With a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree-completion programs, TWU equips leaders of character and competence to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men’s hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.