Some pretty fast times are predicted for this weekend when the University of Manitoba plays host to appoximately 375 of the best university track and field athletes that the Canada West Conference can produce at the Bison Classic indoor championships.
"Because we are running on a banked track, the 300 metres, 600 and 4x200 relays will be a bit faster," said Bisons coach Claude Berube, adding that the Max Bell Fieldhouse and McGill venue in Montreal are the only two university facilities with banked tracks.
"Ours and McGill are the two fastest tracks. When you look at the rankings after this weekend, you are going to see a lot of the top times will be from this weekend here," he said.
One Bison who intends to use those corners to her advantage is Lisa Wong, who is ranked fifth in Canada West in the 60 and will also be running 300 metres and 4x200. While the banked track won't help her in the sprint, it should in the the 300 and 4x200.
Looking at the field, Wong says Amonn Nelson of Calgary and Amanda Ruller of Regina are the ones she needs to look out for. "They are my two main competitors. I haven't raced them yet this year, but as of the end of last season they were both ahead of me by a little bit."
Last year Ruller had a 60-metre time of 7.60 seconds, compared to Wong's 7.79. Nelson will run the 300, in which she has been clocked at 37.92.
"At the beginning of this season, I was ahead of Amanda by a little bit," said Wong, "but Amonn has always beaten me. She is simply amazing."
The Bison Classic replaced the Cargill Games, which had been around almost 25 years, last year. While it no longer has the age-group element, Berube says competition-wise, it is as good as ever.
"All the Canada West schools will be here, coming to check out the competition, facility and get ready for the Canada West championships Feb. 25-26 here, and the CIS two weeks later in Sherbrooke.
"This is the third phase of the schedule, so a lot of the teams are starting to gear up for the playoffs."
In addition to top ranked CIS athletes, some recent Canadian national team members will also be here. Seyi Smith (Ottawa Lions) will be entered in the men's 60 and 300 metres; Esther Akinsulie (Ottawa Lions) the women's 60 and 300; Sam Effah (Calgary) in men's 300 and Heather Stacey (Lethbridge) in women's weight toss.
The meet runs from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.