Performances from Steele, Cross-Trush highlight Griffins' results at ACAC Grand Prix #2

Emma Steele, seen competing during the MacEwan Invitational in January, finished solidly in first amongst ACAC competitors in the women's 800m at the ACAC Grand Prix #2 on Saturday (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Emma Steele, seen competing during the MacEwan Invitational in January, finished solidly in first amongst ACAC competitors in the women's 800m at the ACAC Grand Prix #2 on Saturday (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – At first glance, it appeared Emma Steele set a new Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference record in the women's 800 metres during the Running Room Grand Prix #2 on Saturday.

Shattered it, actually – with a time of 2:26.84, more than 27 seconds better than the old mark. However, it turned out the record being calculated was at 1000m, while the actual race being run at the University of Alberta Pavilion (Butterdome) was shortened.

"They went through the same programming and put the times in and, sure enough, it looks like she broke a record. But no," laughed MacEwan Griffins head coach Drew Carver.

Nevertheless, her run was a solid one in a shorter distance than she's used to. Pushed by a strong field of open competitors, which included former Griffins Vanessa Trofimenkoff and Lesley Koopman, she topped all ACAC competitors.

"Shorter distances are not Emma's strong point," noted Carver. "She's a better 3000m runner than she is 800, but to win at long distances, you still have to be able to pull out the ability to put a fast pace in there. This is why we went into that event – 'OK, we have to get ourselves used to this amount of speed.' It was a great race."

Teammate Ashley Tymkow was second in 2:29.46, despite running in a slower heat, 22 seconds ahead of anyone else.

"It was good to split Ashley and Emma apart so Ashley had to race on her own," said Carver. "She had to follow her own instinct when to pass and when to move up. I was pretty happy with Ashley's results because she's getting stronger when it comes to the shorter distances."

On the men's side, Thomas Cross-Trush put down a solid time of 35.82 to win the men's 300m ahead of teammate Reece Runco (36.53), while Griffins rookie Caelen Begg, who topped the podium in ACAC Grand Prix #1 back in January, was fourth (37.06).

Cross-Trush's time was just shy of the ACAC record of 35.61, set by SAIT's Brent Stephen at the 2018 ACAC Championship when he beat him by a nose at the line.

"Tommy's doing much better," said Carver. "He's been training really hard and putting in the effort in training. It just hasn't been showing up in the races the way he'd like. He's getting a little frustrated.

"But this was good to see. I was really happy about that," he added. "I do think Tommy can go faster. He's got his old buddy Brent who ran the 600 (on Saturday) who's going to be dropping into the 300 against him. He knows that's coming."

Thomas Cross-Trush, left, and Caelen Begg, seen racing the 300 at the MacEwan Invitational in January, had solid results individually and in the relay on Saturday (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Cross-Trush, Runco and Begg combined with Connor Swaby to handily win the men's 4x400m relay in 3:33.46, almost nine seconds better than runner-up Grande Prairie Regional College. That came in just shy of the ACAC record of 3:31.12 set by SAIT at the 2018 ACAC Championship.

Carver thinks they would have broken it if not for a couple of athletes looking behind them to see where their competitors were, cutting their top speed.

"They got a little complacent and looked back to see where everybody was and ran it in," he said. "They didn't realize, now they're going down to Calgary (for the ACAC Championship) to run on that track, which is not as good as what we just ran on.

"I definitely see that we can go faster. Now, will the track and situation we're in in Calgary allow them to? We'll see. But it's a good solid relay team."

Carver believes MacEwan has the ability to medal twice in the relay. His 'B' team of Andrei Pop, Omar Medina, Scott Kohlman and Owen Guenette – which didn't race on Saturday – is also lightning fast.

"We actually have two men's teams that should podium when we go down to Calgary at the championship," he said. "We're solid on the speed end. That's our strong point."

Both of MacEwan's indoor track teams will be competitive for banners when they head to the ACAC Championship in Calgary on March 15-16 (Repsol Sport Centre).

"The eye opener is we found out how strong Red Deer is," said Carver. "There's no 100 per cent guarantees on a banner, that's for sure."

MacEwan's women's team finished second in the team standings on Saturday behind Red Deer College but were without Ember Large – the top female at the ACAC Grand Prix #1 who is currently representing Team Canada in cross-country skiing at the Winter Universiade in Russia – and didn't race everyone in their full event capacity.

The Griffins men's team placed fifth on Saturday, also not running everyone in their full event capacity.

AT THE LINE … Shaunice Burgers placed second in the women's 300 (46.02), while Bailey Stang was sixth (46.98) and Kiersten Rajotte 10th (51.91) … MacEwan's women's relay team of Stang, Steele, Tymkow and Burgers was second (4:23.40) … Daniella Wasielewski was sixth in the women's 600 (2:03.94) … Cassandra Mastel-Marr placed fifth in the women's 1500 (5:15.56) … Kohlman finished fourth in the men's 1500 (4:13.06).