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Airdrie university athletes make the podium at Canada West track-and-field championships

Airdrie's university student-athletes put forward strong performances at the Canada West track-and-field championships in Winnipeg, Man. from March 18 to 20.
Airdrie's Sienna MacDonald (right) earned three medals at her first Canada West track-and-field championships March 18 to 20.

Airdrie's university student-athletes represented their hometown well at the Canada West track-and-field championships in Winnipeg, Man. from March 18 to 20. 

Sienna MacDonald, a second-year multi-event specialist who competes for the University of Calgary Dinos, enjoyed a dominant performance at her first Canada West championships.

The George McDougall High school alumna's weekend got off to the perfect start – she won four out of five events to secure the gold medal in the women's pentathlon on Saturday with a score of 3,823 points – 160 points more than her nearest competitor. 

“It was pretty big for me,” she said. “I had some standards I wanted to hit going into it. I wanted to PB (personal-best) in the pent, which I did. I wasn’t expecting that big of a PB in the pent or hurdles, so I was really excited about that.”

MacDonald was not done yet, however. Despite tired legs after the pentathlon, she went on to secure the silver medal in the women's 60-metre hurdles, with a PB of 8.48 seconds in the final.

She capped off her weekend with a third podium placement by finishing second in the women's long-jump, thanks to a distance of 5.63 metres.

“My legs were pretty tired but the adrenaline was pumping the entire time, so that kind of distracted me,” she said. 

While the former George McDougall Mustang is in her second year of university, last year's U SPORTS track season was disrupted by COVID-19, making this year the first time she had the chance to compete in the Canada West championship.

MacDonald was not the only track-and-field athlete with an Airdrie connection at the recent Canada West championships. Airdrie Aces alumni Jinaye Shomachuk, Parker Allen and Andreas Troschke were also competing in Winnipeg, all three representing the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns' throws team. 

First-year Pronghorn Shomachuk finished third in the women's 20-pound weight throw thanks to a weekend-best distance of 16.63 metres. The Bert Church High School alumna followed up that performance with a fourth-place showing in the women's four-kilogram shot put, with a distance of 12.1 metres. 

“I definitely think I could've gone farther – in practice I have – but I'm happy with how the weekend turned out,” Shomachuk said, adding the distance tied her previous PB to the nearest centimetre. “This is the furthest I've thrown all season.”

Like MacDonald, this year marked Shomachuk's first Canada West championships. Since choosing to study and compete for the University of Lethbridge, she said her throwing has excelled a lot.

“I think having a new coach can give you an opportunity to learn new things and have a breath of fresh air,” she said. “It's nice practicing with so many other throwers. Most of them are my seniors, so they have a lot of experience. I think I've learned a lot in terms of technique and all of that since becoming a Pronghorn.”

Though Troschke is originally from Olds, he competed for the Airdrie Aces during his minor track-and-field career. The fourth-year veteran of the Pronghorns track team rounded off the weekend by defending his 2019 Canada West gold medal, thanks to a 16.16-metre throw in the men's 35-pound weight throw.

Former Aces throws athlete and second-year Pronghorn Allen completed his Canada West championships by finishing in fifth place in the same event, courtesy of a 15.68-metre throw, which is a PB.

The Airdronians will rest up in preparation for the U SPORTS national track-and-field championships in St. John, N.B., to be held from March 31 to April 2.

MacDonald said she'll be busy training in the lead-up to her first U SPORTS nationals, tweaking a few technical issues she claimed she has been having in some of her events.

“There are little things I have to improve on technically, in both high jump and shot put,” she said. “I want to throw a little further than I have been, so hopefully I can figure out what’s been going on there. Other than that, I’ll just need to stay on my game, focusing on what I’m doing and not what everyone around me is doing.”

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