Talented recruiting class joins SFU track and field team

Simon Fraser University track and field head coach Brit Townsend has announced the signing of eleven men and six women to the program for the 2019-20 season.

A diverse group of student-athletes, the incoming recruiting class includes several local high school champions, along with talent not only from across the country, but across the globe.

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"I am so excited about our 2019 recruiting class," said Townsend. "They are a group of talented athletes with a passion to succeed, both athletically and academically. They have genuine enthusiasm that will be a part of our success moving forward."

The SFU throwing contingency received a major boost with the addition of both reigning men's and women's BC High School provincial javelin champions.

The Royal City Track and Field Club’s Jarrett Chong had a toss of 63.40 metres to win his second consecutive men's B.C. title, while also earning the second farthest throw of all-time at the event. In addition, the PoCo native won another gold medal in shot put, took the silver medal in discus, and was named the B.C. High School Championships Male Athlete of the Meet.

Rori Denness, from Surrey, won gold in javelin on the women's side for a third consecutive year. She previously won a gold medal in the sport at the 2016 Legion National Track and Field Championships.

The men's side is also adding Iqam Bhandal of Vancouver, who won bronze medals in all three throwing disciplines at the B.C. High School Championships, while Denness will be joined by fellow Surrey product Nia Cayenne, who had three third-place finishes at the 2017 Fraser Valley Track and Field Championships.

"Our throws coach, Don Allemeersch, has been a great ambassador for our program and has attracted top throwers to SFU," said Townsend. "We have some that are top in their age group in the country, and others have shown massive improvement over the last year.

“I am excited about what this event area will add to our conference totals and the possibility of additional athletes qualifying for nationals."

The men's team also added four sprinters, led by Jeremiah Lauzon of Red Deer, who is his province's reigning 100- and 200-metre dash champion. His personal best 200m time of 20.90 seconds is the top time in Canada for an athlete under-20. He also met the national qualifying standard for the 2019 U20 Pan Am Games and the 2019 NACAC U23 Championships.

Lauzon will be joined by fellow freshman sprinter Jeremy Belcher, who placed fifth in the 100m at the B.C. High School Championships for New Westminster Secondary; Solomon Hines, a Washington 4A State champion in the 200m; and Callum Robinson, who won a bronze medal in the 200m at the 2019 Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Championships.

The men's recruits are rounded out by middle-distance runner Tomas Chapman, who races the 1500m, 3000m and steeplechase; Burnaby South grad Ephrem Mekonnen, who won the 2018 High School Zone Championships; Noah Russell, the 2019 B.C. High School 400-metre hurdles champion; Blake Furtado, who came in fourth-place at the provincials in long jump; and triple jump specialist Nickolas Kuzyk.

On the women's side, Simon Fraser added a high profile transfer from NCAA Div. 1 Baylor University in Alison Andrews-Paul. A dual citizen of both Canada and New Zealand, Andrews-Paul was Big-12 All-Conference in the distance medley relay three times, and All-Conference in the 800m in 2017 and in the 1000m in 2018.

Another Div.1 transfer, Nanaimo’s Hope Stewart, is also returning to Canada, coming to the program along with distance runner Grace Chalk, and sprinter Jordan Jacobs, both from Langley's Walnut Grove Secondary.

"We still have some holes to fill as we had some significant losses this year, especially in the distance events for women, but we have gained some great talent in the sprints and on the men's side," said Townsend. "Overall, our incoming athletes will have an immediate impact. They are strong, character athletes that I know will fit in immediately and be great ambassadors for SFU and our program."

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