Gryphon Workman out to better his track times

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH — Ben Workman of the Guelph Gryphons considers himself more of a cross-country runner than a track runner, but he’s trying to improve his performances on the track.

“I think I’ve untapped potential on the track because I haven’t had the most lucrative of track seasons,” Workman said.

Friday night at the Gryphons Fieldhouse, Workman ran to victory in an all-Gryphon men’s 3,000 metres at the Zoltan Tenke Classic meet.

“For track season, I want to take my times down a lot,” he said. “I don’t have the best track times so the goal is to take down those and get on the start line at (the U Sports championship meet) and from there just compete my best. It’s not really a place goal, I just have to get on the line and then I can mix it up.”

Workman, one of the five scoring runners for the Gryphons at the U Sports national university cross-country championship meet last Saturday at Quebec City, completed Friday’s race in eight minutes, 35.02 seconds. Liam Stiles was about 11 and a half seconds behind in second place and was followed by Thomas Kemp, Mark Patton, Josh Kellier and Peter Quosai.

While the standards for the 2017 championship meet have not been decided, last year it was 8:10.90 on a flat track like the one in the fieldhouse. However, Workman’s run wasn’t one that was supposed to end with reaching the standard.

“The idea was that if you could get close to it, that would be nice as it would be a confidence booster right off from cross training,” he said. “But realistically, I’ve only done a few laps of the track this week. I haven’t touched it at all since last February. So to do it — we don’t even know what the standard is — but to do it would have been pretty high because it would have had to have been at least a 12-second (personal best) for me. I was just trying to get out there and get used to this before we come back for second semester.”

Part of the reason Workman figures he’s better in cross-country than on the track is a lack of competitive track events close to his hometown.

“In Kingston where I’m from, it was usually a long way to travel to get to the races around western Ontario where you get all the fast times coming from. I usually put less emphasis on it. I think once I get into more races with competition out here I can bring my times down quite a bit.”

The all-Guelph race also meant there wouldn’t be as much pressure and certainly none of the bumping that can happen in races with competitors from other schools also on the line. Last thing any of the Gryphons in the race wanted to do was mess up a teammate’s run.

“You can make your own plans and no one is going to get in the way of it,” Workman said. “It takes a bit of the heat off. Especially the week after the (U Sports cross-country finals) where you’ve been in really intense competition with your rival schools, to take a step back and have none of that just takes a bit of the pressure off and you can have some fun with it.”

The Tenke Classic is more a throws and jumps meet than a track meet as it’s the first chance for the throwers and jumpers to get some competition. Also being the week after the U Sports cross-country championships means many of those who compete in both cross-country and track are in a down phase, resting from the grueling cross-country campaign.

As expected, Gryphons’ Jared Skeath and Ashley Connell won both throws events. Skeath won the men’s shot put with a best throw of 15.45 metres while Connell took the women’s title at 14.33m, a distance that put her second overall in the mixed event.

Connell won the mixed weight throw with a best of 16.70m while Skeath was second, first in the men’s class, at 16.63m.

Sean Cate of the Gryphs won the men’s high jump by clearing 2.09m. Teammate Drew Schulz was second at 1.95m.

Gryphon Gabby Marton won the women’s high jump by clearing 1.60m.

Thomas Weigl of the Gryphs was victorious in the men’s pole vault at 4.60m while teammate Graham Pitfield was second at 4.40m.

Tessa Hamilton of the Gryphs cleared 3.50m to win the women’s pole vault.

Jorg Ahne of the Speed River Tracka dn Field Club leaped 7.15m to win the men’s long jump while Gryphon Mark Emode was second at 6.96m.

Vanessa Oliver of the Gryphs took the women’s long jump with a leap of 5.49m while unattached athlete Charlie Poretti and Gryphon Clare Thompson tied for second at 5.45m.

Sarah Hammond of the Gryphs recorded a time of 7.70 seconds to win the women’s 60m while teammate Shyvonne Roxborough was second at 7.72s.

Kyle Thompson of the Gryphs claimed the men’s 60m title with a clocking of 6.86s, 1/100th of a second faster than runner-up Mohamed Yassin of the Waterloo Track Club.

Charlotte Ward led a Gryphon sweep of the top five in the women’s 1,000m. She finished in 2:56.68 while Dana Earhart was second in 3:01.78.

The Gryphon men took the top six spots in the men’s 1,000m with Tommy Land leading the way at 2:30.85. Jeff Thornber was second at 2:32.23.

The U Sports championship track meet is to be hosted by a Quebec school March 9-11.