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A combination of hometown favourites, recent Olympians and first time competitors in U16, U18, U20 and Open categories brought a full crowd to their feet on Saturday and Sunday.

“We were very proud to host this event in Saint John and welcome 450 athletes, coaches and officials from across the country,” said Bill MacMackin, President of the Saint John Track Club, the event hosts. “We had nearly 1000 spectators over the two days watching some exciting competitions.”

Several of Canada’s top athletes were in attendance, including 2020 Olympian and steeplechase specialist Regan Yee. The 28-year-old from B.C. pulled off a rare distance trifecta and won gold in the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m in times of 2:18.11, 4:33.40 and 9:38.33.

Abby Lewis of Chebucto Athletics, meanwhile, defended her U18 3,000m title, posting a time of 9:51.66, and then upgraded last year’s silver medal in the 1,500m to gold by stopping the clock at 4:39.41. Andrew Alexander of Toronto matched Lewis’ results, albeit in the men’s open division, and won the two longest distance events in times of 3:56.70 and 8:27.42.

Lewis was one of several Maritimers to win a title of the home crowd. Joining her were a pair of high jumpers from Truro – Joey MacDonald and Jennessa Wolfe – who claimed gold medals in the men’s open and women’s U20 categories, respectively. MacDonald was the only athlete to clear two metres, closing his competition with a best jump of 2.01m. Wolfe, meanwhile, leaped to a best mark of 1.74m, missing the competition record by just two centimetres.

Meanwhile, Sayanthan Arulrajan of United Tamil Sports Club stole the show in the men’s U18 category with a competition best of 1.85m. The Toronto-based athlete doubled his winnings in the long jump, claiming gold with a mark of 6..69m.

Arulrajan’s teammate Aakaash Prabu dominated the U16 shot put – his best throw of 15.15m trounced the previous competition record of 12.41m by almost three full metres. The men’s U20 shotput record of 12.54m also fell, as Truro’s Austin Warren tossed to a new record of 13.10. On the women’s side, 2023 Ontario indoor shot put champion Grace Tennant continued her strong season with a throw of 15.97m. This season, Tennant ranks second in Canada only to reigning Commonwealth Games Champion Sarah Mitton.

In the sprints, 2016 Olympian Bolade Ajomale was the class of the field, winning the Open 60m final in a time of 6.82, besting 23-year-old Addison De La Cruz of York University by 0.20 seconds. Alexia Jones, a 14-year-old of Quest Sports Track and Field arguably had the most impressive result in the women’s sprints, winning gold in both the U16 60m and 60m hurdles in times of 7.92 and 9.85. Elsewhere, Erika Lealess of London Western dominated the U18 400m in a personal best time of 56.54.

The championship took place at the Irving Oil Fieldhouse, a 110,000-square-foot and $27 million facility just in its third year of operation. The track boasts a polyurethane surface that allows for superior energy return, creating a spring-like feeling for runners. 

At the Fieldhouse on Saturday, Athletics Canada and Saint John Reds Track & Field Club held a ceremony to recognize Eldridge Eatman: a world class sprinter and war veteran from Saint John. Eatman lived most of his life in Saint John, and set a Canadian record in the 100-yard sprint with a time of 9.8 seconds in 1905.

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