Having something a little extra in the tank for the last big meet is how you’d script it.
For Rowan Doherty and the Simon Fraser University men's distance medley relay team, that’s just how it unfolded this past weekend at the 2019 NCAA Div. 2 indoor track and field championships in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Ranked eighth among all Div. 2 competitors, the quartet faced a strong field of competitors but turned on the jets to finish second overall. Providing an inspired performance, runners Pierre-Louis Detourbe, Nate St. Romain, Carlos Vargas and Doherty each made major contributions to the medal finish time of 9:48.57, just .66 back of first-place California State University-Pueblo team.
With three strong legs of the race done, Doherty took the baton for the mile portion of the race, delivering an impressive push during the final lap to set a new school record, just a few tenths of a second quicker than the third and fourth place finishers.
It also ranked as the fifth-fastest mark on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s all-time indoor top-10 list.
The result earned the foursome All-American honours.
“Our men lifted the spirits of the team with their remarkable finish in the (distance medley). These guys have been focused and disciplined all year and they were rewarded with the best-ever finish any male has had for our program since joining the NCAA,” remarked coach Brit Townsend. “Every one of them ran great legs and took responsibility for their part in making this the best ever.”
Doherty, a junior from West Van, would add to his distance medley relay result with another All-American award by finished seventh in the men's 3000-metre event, with a time of 8:16.14.
The SFU women’s distance medley advanced to the championships with the fifth-fastest qualifying time, but suffered a severe blow when anchor runner Addy Townsend was scratched for the final due to illness. In her stead, her teammates Sophie Dodd, Renate Bluschke, alternate Mairin Shields-Brown and Paige Nock, moving up to the last leg, ran a strong race in placing 12th with a time of 12:17.14.
Individually, Dodd competed in the 800m and she ran an indoor personal best 2:09.06, to place ninth overall.
In total, the men scored 10 team points, the most of any GNAC men’s programs competing at the championships.