Vargas, Howley and Miller capture GNAC titles

It came down to a photo finish in the 1500-metre finals at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference outdoor track and field championships last Saturday, with the Simon Fraser University team having two in the picture.

Carlos Vargas captured his first outdoor conference championship title, as the junior completed the 1500m race in a time of 3:54.18, just ahead of teammate Rowan Doherty (3:54.96). Placing fifth was sophomore Aaron Ahl came in fifth with a time of 3:56.99.

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It was just part of a stellar weekend for the Canadian crew, which saw the men place sixth overall and the women finish fourth in aggregate team standings.

Vargas, of Brossard, Que., was the first of two SFU athletes to earn an individual title on the second and final day of the conference meet in Monmouth, Ore. Racing in the men's 5000m final, Sean Miller topped the event in 14:46.49 for his first GNAC title, just a year after placing third in the same event.

Vargas and Miller joined senior Julia Howley — who won the women's 3000m steeplechase on Friday — as the only three SFU runners to win individual races. However, the group made several more appearances on the podium.

Burnaby’s Nathan Mah placed seventh in the 200m race.

In the field events, sophomore Holly Taylor placed second in the women's hammer throw, with her 49.87m toss being the best of her young collegiate career. Senior Lauren Fridman, a newcomer this season after completing a full NCAA volleyball career, also posted a personal best in javelin, with 44.60m placing her fourth in the GNAC.

Simon Fraser's large women's 800m contingency, meanwhile, had a great final race with Sophie Dodd taking second place with a 2:09.01 time, ahead of teammates Alana Mussatto (2:10.18) and Paige Nock (2:11.86), who finished third and fourth, respectively. Mairin Shields Brown finished just behind the rest in sixth place with a 2:13.08.

In the men’s 200m hurdles, Josh Adhemar and Nate St. Romain had perhaps the most impressive photo finish of the entire meet, coming in second and third with a difference of just a single millisecond. Both set new career bests.

In the women's 1500m, Howley and Miryam Bassett came in fourth and sixth, respectively, while Renate Bluschke finished fourth in the 400m and Bryce West came in sixth.

SFU’s women’s 4x400m relay team of West, Dodd, Mussatto and Bluschke recorded the second-best time, 3:46.19, to take silver, leading a strong relay contingent. Both the men's and women's sides finished in third place in the 4x100m races, and the men came in fifth in the 4x400m.

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