Part of being a varsity athlete is constant competition. Always competing for a starting position, a faster time, or a better record, athletes regularly push themselves to be the best they can be. Dalhousie’s track and field athletes are no exception. In a sport that is considered highly individual, fans might be surprised to discover that there is an incredible amount of team camaraderie. With the AUS title on the line this weekend, the defending AUS champion Tigers are poised to stay at the top of the podium.
Senior athlete contributes to jumps success
Fifth-year track and field jumper Simon Watts is incredibly competitive. The defending CIS triple jump champion is the current DAL and AUS record holder in high jump (2.11m), long jump (7.13m), and triple jump (14.50m), earning an AUS gold medal in each of these events last year. A four-time AUS All-Star and a three-time CIS All-Canadian, Watts has also been named AUS Championship MVP (2011-12), AUS Athlete of the Year (2010-11), and AUS Rookie of the Year (2009-10). At the CIS championships, he has earned gold medals in high jump (2009-10), and in triple jump (2011-12), as well as a silver medal in long jump (2010-11). In his final season at Dal, Watts has become a mentor to his jumps teammates, training on his own earlier in the day so that he can help jumps coach Kevin Bourgeois lead practices. “I enjoy seeing my teammate’s succeed.” says Watts. “Coaching is definitely something I want to continue. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel obligated to give back to a sport that has given me so much.” With Watts’ help, Bourgeois has been able to focus more on individual athletes and the entire jumps team has improved to one of the best in the CIS.
An athlete who has benefited from Watts’ mentorship is first-year track and field Tiger Jordan Bruce. At January’s Athletics Nova Scotia Indoor Open, Bruce set a new personal best in the triple jump (14.32m) that broke the provincial indoor record, and placed him at the top of the CIS rankings. Head coach Rich Lehman says, “between jumps Simon encourages Jordan and helps him with technical aspects. He makes a point of watching each of Jordan's jumps and providing feedback.” Despite Watts’ support for his teammates, his competitive nature was in full force the following weekend when he recorded a 14.45m triple jump.
Currently Watts is ranked No. 3 and Bruce No. 4 in CIS triple jump. Lehman describes their relationship as “mutually beneficial, because Jordan is learning from the best, and Simon has to make sure he brings it when it counts!” While Watts and Bruce could easily train individually, their competitive relationship pushes them to achieve more. “I love competing with Simon,” says Bruce. “He knows how to help me improve and is always willing to share his knowledge.”
Aiming for AUS gold
Other standouts on the track and field team include fourth-year three-time AUS All-Star Elizabeth MacDonald who is currently ranked fourth in CIS weight throw and captain Rebecca Haworth, defending AUS high jump champion, who is currently ranked fourth in CIS high jump. On the men’s team, Rob McCulloch will be looking to defend his first place title in the pentathlon. McCulloch is currently ranked fifth in CIS high jump and fourth in CIS pentathlon.
This weekend Watts, Bruce, MacDonald, Haworth, and McCulloch will all be aiming for gold while cheering on their teammates as the Tigers strive for their 24 consecutive women’s AUS banner and the 12-straight men’s AUS banner. Following the AUS championships the track and field team will progress to the CIS championships in Edmonton, Alta. from March 7-9.
Subway AUS Track and Field Championships
Hosted by Université de Moncton
Saturday, Feb. 23 @ 9am
Sunday, Feb. 24 @ 9am
Watch events LIVE online at AUS TV
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