World-class athletes, hometown heroes, and Olympians battled it out on the Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium track to rise above the rest at the Hub City Classic track and field meet on Thursday.
The rain stopped just in time for the 6:30 p.m. start, and as the piper began and Moncton MP Robert Goguen observed the crowd, everyone braced themselves for a night of intense track and field action.
The Classic was the fourth stop on the National Track League circuit.
Bridgewater, N.S., native Jenna Martin ran the women’s 400 metres as fans clapped and cheered her on. Her time of 52.04 put her in second place, just .02 off from Puerto Rico’s Carol Rodriguez for the top spot.
“I just stayed focused and relaxed the entire way,” said Rodriguez, who needed to get a B standard time in the Classic race to get to the Olympics. Her 52.02 did the trick.
“I’m just really ecstatic right now,” she said. She is normally not a 400 metre runner, but a hamstring injury caused her to switch her discipline.
“This 400 metres race was huge, and I’m glad I bounced back from my injury and did as well as I did,” said the winded athlete.
Martin was calm after her loss, and gave her thanks for the “great support from the south shore” that she has received.
“I’m very fortunate,” she said.
The men’s 100 metre dash featured 13 competitors, with Derrick Atkins of Bahamas coming out on top in 10.27 seconds. Canada’s Justyn Warner got 10.33 in second and Canadian Oluseyi Smith came in third in 10.40. Riverview native Michael LeBlanc came fifth in 10.44.
Canadian Andrew Ellerton came in fifth in the men’s 800 metres in a time of 1:48.71, less than two seconds off from the first-place finisher Aaron Jabril Evans of Bermuda.
“I did medicore,” said Ellerton. “I closed out that last 200 metres pretty well, but this is a big letdown.”
Evans finished first in 1:47.92, Trinidad’s Jamaal James was second in 1:47.99, and third went to U.S. athlete Tevan Everett in 1:48.02.
In women’s 800 metres action, Canada’s Lemlem Ogbasilassie came in first in 2:01.20. Jamaica’s Kimarra McDonald was close behind in and Canada’s Karin Belleau-Belliveau was third in 2:03.80.
The women’s 1,500 metres saw U.S. athlete Stephanie Charnigo run away with the win with a time of 4:15.41. Canada’s Jessica O’Connell got 4:21.04 for second and Canadian Andrea Secaffien got 4:22.68 for third.
The men’s 1,500 metres was crowded with athletes, but Canada’s Taylor Mline (3:43.69) and Matthew Lincoln (3:44.01) got first and second. Matthew Elliot of the U.S. was third in 3:44.04.
Canadian Angela Whyte beat out the competition in the women’s 100 metre hurdles in 13.01. U.S. athletes April Garner (13.27) and Yvana Hepburn-Bailey (13.33) were close behind.
But Whyte thought she could have done even better.
“I was a little sloppy,” said Whyte. “I was trying to roll through the race, but my steps were a little off.”
However, she had great things to say about the Moncton track.
“We have nationals here the next two years and I like this a lot,” said Whyte. “The facilities are amazing, and it’s good to see better facilities springing up across the country.”
Salisbury’s James Brace won the wheelchair paralympic mixed 200 metres in 32.61. Fellow Canadians Ben Brown (33.85) and Steven Kendall (40.77) followed.
The women’s long jump saw Bermuda’s Arandxa King win with a 6.18m score. Grenada’s Patricia Sylvester had a 6.16m score and U.S. athlete Natasha Coleman finished with 5.97m.
U.S. women’s hammer throwers Jessica Rowland (63.07m) and Gwen Berry (62.25m) beat out third-place Megan Rodhe of Canada (60.82m).
The men’s shot put winner was U.S. athlete Derek Vickers with a score of 18.32m. Canadians Umer Khan (16.59m) and Brent Roubus (12.28m) followed.
New Brunswicker Mitch Quigg came in last in the men’s javelin with a 55.74m score. The top three were Canadians — Kyle Neilson (75.78m), Curtis Moss (73,12m) and Jared Baird (66.00m).
In the mixed 1,500 metres masters event, UNB’s Robert Jackson was first in 4:45.99, Saint John Track’s Bruce Roswall was second in 4:47.93, and in third was Fredericton’s Eric Hopper at 4:53.29.
One thing the Classic managed to do was give a chance for young athletes to race on the same track as their professional idols.
There was an age class competition earlier in the day, but results weren’t available.
Some high school competitions were also held Thursday night. The women’s 400 metres ended with the Truro Lions’ Heather Beaton in first with a time of 58.59 seconds. In the high school men’s 1,500 metres, Antigonish Track’s Mike Tate came in first at 3:58.22.
Meet director Peter Stuart didn’t let a little rain ruin his Classic.
“I was concerned in the afternoon with the rain, but it cleared right up for us,” said Stuart.
“The event went very well. Athletes enjoyed it, we’ve had great feedback, and I couldn’t be happier.”