Emma Nuttall, middle




LANGLEY, British Columbia –
In just its second year back in the CIS, and first under the direction of head coach Laurier Primeau, the Trinity Western track and field and cross country teams made great strides in 2011-12 as they returned to both the Canada West and CIS podiums in track and field and were also a vastly improved group on the cross country trails.

Today: Track & Field and Cross Country
April 11: Men’s Volleyball

With Primeau, who had spent the previous two years working in Scotland as the head coach of Scottish Athletics, at the helm, along with assistant coaches Mark Bomba and Nick Stoffberg, the Spartans entered this past season with a rejuvenated excitement for both the cross country and track and field seasons.

Cross Country

Despite a very young team – one that included only two athletes who were competing beyond their second years of eligibility – the Spartans cross country teams, led largely by the trio of Fiona Benson, Alison Jackson and Blair Johnston, were an immediate threat to compete in, and in some instances, win races.

In the Spartans very first individual race of the season – at the University of Washington’s Sundodger Invitational Open – Jackson finished the six kilometre event second overall while Benson was third. Johnston, racing in his first ever university event as an individual led the Spartans men with a 16th place finish and was the top Canadian runner.

After that, the Spartans top trio continued to roll as it was Jackson again leading the way at the Western Washington Invitational with a sixth place finish while Benson was eighth and, on the men’s side, Johnston was 19th.

Then at the B.C. Club Championships – the Spartans last race before the CIS national champioinships – Johnston and Benson both topped the podium in their respective junior races, with Johnston winning his seven kilometre race and Benson winning her five kilometre event.

At nationals Johnston and Benson led the way as it was Johnston finished 41st overall on the men’s side and Benson finished 48th on the women’s side. With Johnston finishing 10thd amongst Canada West runners and Benson finishing 14thd amongst Canada West runners, both were named Canada West Second Team All-Stars.

Two weeks later, the Spartans leading duo from CIS nationals were once again near the front of the pack at the Canadian national championships as Benson finished seventh in the women’s junior race and Johnston finished eighth in the men’s junior race.

Track and Field

The Spartans entered the track and field seen brimming with confidence as the potential for Canada West and CIS medals was not only a possibility but, in some cases, a probability.

With the Scottish trio of Emma Nuttall, Calum Innes and Hazel Ross joining the Spartans as first year athletes, a successful year on the track and in the field seemed entirely inevitable. Combine the talent of the aforementioned trio with the likes of middle-distance runners Benson and Johnston and pentathlete Jake Powrie and the Spartans were certainly a threat to medal at every meet they entered.

Trinity Western kicked its season off in fine fashion as, competing at the University of Washington Indoor Preview, Nuttall won the high jump competition, with a jump of 1.81m, and Innes won the 60m hurdles, with a then personal best and then Spartans record time of 8.22. With those performances, both Nuttall and Innes automatically qualified for the CIS national championships.

From there, the highlights of the season included a fifth place finishing pentathlon score of 3387 for Powrie at Alberta’s Golden Bear Open, who was competing for the first time at the university level, a first place finish for Benson in the 1500m with a time of 4:31.30 at Manitoba’s Bison Classic and then, in the last race before the conference championships, a second place finish from Johnston in the 3000m at the University of Washington Open, with a six second personal best time of 8:26.62, and a 10th place finish for Benson in the one mile event with a time of 4:48.61, competing against strictly NCAA Div. 1 competition at Washington’s Flotrack Husky Classic.

Then, at the Canada West championships, the Spartans, as a team, once again stepped their game to a new level.

Trinity Western finished the Canada West track and field championships with six medals in total including two gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals.

Leading the Spartans charge on the first day was Innes, who took gold in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.22. Then, after Innes, it was Benson snagging a silver in the 1000m event with a time of school record 2:53.48 before Powrie earned a bronze medal with a personal best and then Spartans record 3581 points in the pentathlon.

On the second day, Benson bettered her spot on the podium as she claimed gold in the 1500m race with a time of 4:34.09. Then it was Nuttall earning a silver medal in the high jump, clearing 1.79m, and Johnston nabbing a bronze medal in the 1500m with a time of 4:02.60. While 60m hurdler Hazel Ross did not medal, her fourth place finishing time of 8.90 earned her a spot at nationals.

With five athletes qualifying for nationals, the Spartans went to Winnipeg seeking podium finishes. And with a gold medal from Nuttall in the high jump and a bronze from Benson in the 1500m, the Spartans did exactly that.

With a season’s best and Spartans record clearance of 1.82m, Nuttall captured Trinity Western’s first CIS gold medal since Laura Wilson accomplished the feat in the 60m dash in 2002.

On the track, Benson finished third in the 1500m with a personal best and Spartans record time of 4:29.35.

While they weren’t medaling performances, the Spartans other three athletes certainly put together strong efforts at nationals as Innes finished fourth in the 60m hurdles with a personal best and school record 8.19, Powrie finished fifth in the pentathlon with a school record and personal best 3650 points and Ross improved on her 12th place ranking coming in to finish ninth with a time of 8.94.



“We got off to a great start and had some fantastic results early in the season. We’re really happy with what we did in a short amount of time. Obviously the national championships didn’t go exactly as we had hoped but it was a huge learning experience for us. Being forced to run in the snow really has prepared us well to be ready for anything on any given day.

“Our team exceeded expectations. I felt that our placing at nationals on both the men’s and women’s side was far beyond what we would have expected going into our year. To bring to Trinity Western two medals on the women’s side and two top eight finishes on the men’s side was extremely gratifying and a proud coaching moment. It is a benchmark for us but by no means a finished product.”


Women’s CIS Championships: 18th
Women’s Highest CIS Ranking: N/A
Women’s Top Finisher: Fiona Benson – 48th – 19:42.1 (5km)

Men’s CIS Championships: 16th
Men’s Highest CIS Ranking: N/A
Men’s Top Finisher: Blair Johnston – 41st – 33:57.0 (10km)


Canada West Second Team All-Stars – Blair Johnston and Fiona Benson



CIS Championships: 15th – 16 points
Highest CIS Ranking: N/A
CIS Medals: Gold – Emma Nuttall – High Jump (1.82m*) and Bronze – Fiona Benson – 1500m (4:29.35*)
Canada West Championships: 7th – 22.5 points
Canada West Medals: Gold – Fiona Benson – 1500m (4:34.09); Silver – Emma Nuttall – High Jump (1.79m) and Fiona Benson – 1000m (2:53.48*);


CIS Championships: 15th – 9 points
Highest CIS Ranking: N/A
CIS Medals: None
Canada West Championships: 7th – 22.5 points
Canada West Medals: Gold – Calum Innes – 60m Hurdles (8.22); Bronze – Blair Johnston – 1500m (4:02.60) and Jake Powrie – Pentathlon (3581 points)

*Spartans Record


CIS First Team All-Star – Emma Nuttall
CIS Female Athlete of the Meet Honourable Mention – Emma Nuttall
Canada West Female Rookie of the Year Honourable Mention -  Emma Nuttall
Canada West Female Field Event Athlete of the Year Honourable Mention – Emma Nuttall
Canada West Female Track Athlete of the Year Honourable Mention – Fiona Benson
Canada West Female Community Service Student-Athlete of the Year Honourable Mention – Fiona Benson
Canada West Male Rookie of the Year Honourable Mention – Calum Innes
Canada West Male Track Athlete of the Year Honourable Mention – Calum Innes


Jason Carwile
Marissa Ratzlaff


Emma Nuttall
Fiona Benson
Blair Johnston
Calum Innes
Jake Powrie
Hazel Ross


Trinity Western’s future in both track and field and cross country is very bright.

The Spartans lose only two athletes to graduation this year and of their five Canada West medal-winning athletes, four were competing in their first year of eligibility. Benson was the lone “veteran” as she was competing in her second year of eligibility after last year competing at the college level.

The Spartans will have all but two of their athletes from this year’s team returning and only Chris Voth will be beyond his third year.

With so much young talent, this year’s success is just the beginning of what looks to be a very promising future.

“I rarely like getting trapped into setting objective goals because people can come back to you and say you didn’t meet your goals but I’m going to do it anyway and say we would have a goal of finishing in the top 10 at the CIS championships on both the men’s and women’s sides,” Primeau said.

“Our gap analysis demonstrates that we have the ability to really develop some of the athletes we have right now and put them into position to score at this level. And the other part of the puzzle is intelligent and sensible recruiting. We feel like we’ve already signed a couple of really solid pieces and there are a few others in the mix that could really help our program achieve the goals we’ve set out.”

Last Updated: 2013-08-22
Author: Mark Janzen