Track and field season preview

Storylines to watch for in 2023-24

The Bisons 2023-24 track and field season is off from the starting blocks Friday with the annual Brown and Gold Intersquad at the James Daly Fieldhouse in Max Bell Centre.

After a podium-topping 2022-23 season, here are some of the storylines to follow this year.

Bison blitz

Last season, the Bisons racked up medals at both the CanWest and U Sports Championships.

At CanWest, the herd won seven individual gold, two team gold, four individual silver, four individual bronze and four team bronze, including Max Speiser taking second in the men’s heptathlon and Madisson Lawrence winning the women’s pentathlon. The men’s team also won the CanWest Championships banner for the second year in a row.

Tristan Allen was named Male Track Athlete of the Year and Daxx Turner won Male Field Athlete of the Year, with Lawrence winning Female Field Athlete of the Year. Head coach Claude Berube took home Coach of the Year honours for the second straight season and assistant coach Mingpu Wu won Assistant Coach of the Year.

At U Sports, the Bisons bagged three individual gold, a team gold in the men’s 4×400 metre relay, a team silver in the men’s 4×800 metre relay and the men’s team placed bronze in the tournament. Individually, Anna McConnell took home gold for women’s shot put, while Lawrence won the women’s pentathlon, high jump and Female Athlete of the Meet.

Lawrence also set a Bison record with her 4,114 pentathlon points, as well as her individual high jump at 1.80 metres. Her points record at the championships is currently the fourth-most in U Sports history.

Because of the spectacular season, Lawrence went on to win the 2022-23 Bison Female Athlete of the Year, as well as women’s track and field MVP.

Wu was named the 2022-23 Bison Sports Assistant Coach of the Year and the track and field men’s MVP award went to Dawson Mann — who earned valuable points at both the CanWest and U Sports Championships that aided the men’s team in winning gold and bronze overall, respectively.

Most of last year’s athletes are eligible to return to the team this season, so the depth of the Bisons is there for another podium-topping push into the conference and national championships.

Even more depth

On top of the bevvy of returning athletes, the Bisons have secured commitment from two of the top jumpers in the country.

Sarah McChristie already has accolades in the form of podium finishes and MVP honours. The Thunder Bay, Ont. native’s personal best in the long jump is 5.05 metres and 11.41 metres in the  triple jump.

Meanwhile, the hometown-bid Yinka Odeleye is a veteran with Winnipeg Optimist Athletics. Odeleye was ranked number one in the province for long jumping the 2022 season and was a provincial finalist in the triple jump and long jump.

The championships live here

Bison fans will be able to cheer on their home team as the University of Manitoba is set to host the 2024 U Sports Championships March 7 to 9 in the university’s very own James Daly Fieldhouse.

This will be the eighth time the championships have been held at U of M, and will be a once-in-a-degree and not-to-miss event for current students.