Tommies set personal bests and break records

Grace Baker and Connor Coelho are excited to see what the Atlantic University Sport Championships will bring for the track team. (Hillary Latham/AQ)

St. Thomas University’s track team will be heading to the Atlantic University Sport Championships on Feb. 22 and 23 in Moncton after attending three meets this season.

At their latest meet on Feb. 2, Lars Schwarz, a first-year runner, set a new school record after placing second in the 3,000 metre with a time of nine minutes and 13.56 seconds, breaking the old record by nearly 15 seconds.

All five of the 300 metre runners had personal bests during the run.

Head coach Nicholas Larade is proud of the team and is excited to see what the AUS meet will bring.

“I’m impressed by the hard work that our athletes have been putting in week after week,” said Larade.

“We saw many new personal or season bests, as well as a new school record, and this meet is right in the middle of our heaviest training.”

Third-year student and 600 metre runner Connor Coelho was impressed with his fellow teammates at the Gagetown Invitational on Nov. 24.

“A lot of people went above of what we were expecting to do,” said Coelho.

“It was a good way to set your goals for the rest of the season.”

In early January, the Tommies went to Moncton for the Jump Start Moncton Open, where most of the Tommies ran their personal best times. Second-year sprinter Grace Baker ran the 60 metre leaving with her personal best time of 8.57 seconds.

There were nine new runners added to the team this year, four on the men’s team and five on the women’s team.

Baker and Coelho agree the team has vastly improved since last season.

“Everyone’s definitely putting the work in and it’s showing,” said Baker.

Larade said he’s happy with how the season is going.

“Our season has gone well. My assistant coaches and I have been focused on rebuilding the team and helping develop our athletes since the school year started, so everyone has been training hard,” he said.

Baker said the AUS meet is the one that matters the most. Where the runners are ranked going into the championship determines what heat they’re in and where they’ll line up to race.

“AUS is where we can qualify for the USPORTS National Championships … The meets along the way are more to determine where we will be individually ranked going into AUS based on our times from those meets. They matter in the long run leading up to AUS, but not to the degree of the championships,” said Baker in a Facebook message.

The Tommies will compete against all other AUS track teams at the championships.

“Throughout the season as we travel to meets, there is no guarantee that we will compete against everyone we will at AUS,” said Baker.

“From here on out, it’s just keep doing what you’re doing because we’ve be training since September.”

Coelho said most of the athletes set their own goals for the championship.

“It’s just another meet. If you treat it any differently you won’t do well,” he said.

Baker said she’s excited about going to the AUS Championships.

“I have personal goals for myself, but I’m also excited to see where everybody else gets with their goals.”

Last season at the AUS Championships, most of the Tommies ran their personal best times. They’re hoping for a similar – or better – outcome this year.

“I’m excited to take our team to Moncton as we have a good mix of veterans and new athletes and I’m confident that they will all rise to the level of the competition and perform at their best,” said Larade.

“Everyone has worked hard throughout the year and I expect we’ll see the results of all their hard work.”

With files from Shannon Cornelius