Dino ladies golden, Zelinka superb

“All who surrender will be spared; whoever does not surrender but opposes with struggle and dissension, shall be annihilated.”

-Genghis Khan, Mongolian cannibal

Not having the wits to surrender, the University of Calgary Dinos’ women’s track and field team’s Canada West opposition struggled and were annihilated.

The Dinos won their third CW track and field championship in a row, kicking off the short season of official CIS competition by burning the villages of their western foes, and doubling their nearest competitor’s score. The Dinos finished first with ??? points to the second-place University of Alberta Pandas’ 65.5.

“We actually went in expecting to win,” said Dinos head coach Doug Lamont. “In actual fact, what the girls did was they outperformed themselves and basically dominated the rest of the Canada West teams. They did far better than I expected.”

The Dinos were led by world-class athlete Jessica Zelinka, who came away with a booty of five gold medals. Zelinka kicked off her official ’07 season by continuing to do what gave her two major awards in ’06. Not only did she take the Dr. Fred Tees memorial trophy, awarded to an outstanding Canadian track and field athlete enrolled in a Canadian university, for the third consecutive year, she came away with the F.N.A. Roswell Trophy as the Canadian athlete of the year in track and field events.
“I’m glad I got a chance to come back and compete in my last year,” said Zelinka, who is in her fifth-year of Canadian Interuniversity Sport eligibility. “It was really exciting, I just love competing, and I love competing with everyone. To do all those events, almost at the same time, it’s just exciting for me.”
This was the first time since the 2005 CW championships that Zelinka has competed for the Dinos. Though the five gold medals were impressive, Zelinka also knocked down two CW records, in the pentathlon and the 60 metre hurdles, and came within 1/100th of a second of nailing another in the 60m sprint.

“[My coach Les Gramantik] always makes a plan for me,” said Zelinka. “At the top [of the one for Canada West] it said ‘objectives: five gold medals, three CanWest records.’ I was like ‘Whoa, no high expectations!’ I ended up getting two records, not three. [The third goal] was for long jump—6.10m was the record. When I came so close to the 60, I was like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t expect that one.’”

After competing in several notable international competitions over the summer—Zelinka was only the third Canadian to compete in the Hypo Bank Invitational in Austria—the university level competition is a step down. But Zelinka provides a high bar for the other athletes on the team to reach towards.
“The rest of the team sees Jessica out there as a world class athlete that is out to achieve certain things and to contribute to the team in her last shot,” said Lamont. “The girls see her as an example of what it takes to achieve at the highest levels.”

“[Zelinka] definitely was by far the best athlete at the competition,” said men’s teammate Geoff Kerr. “It’s good to get some perspective what it takes to get to the next level and to try and elevate your game, just to come even close to where’s she’s at.”

The men’s team took second in the team standings, led by Geoff Kerr, named the male top performer in track award and the male most valuable performer. Kerr took home gold in the 1500m and 3000m races and helped the relay team take silver in the 4x800m.

“Everybody performed well and we exceeded expectations,” said Kerr, who was also the 2006 CIS cross country champion. “It was a pretty exciting weekend. The racing experience I’ve gained the last few years definitely helped in my races this weekend.”

Now that Canada West has been laid to waste, Zelinka, Kerr and company look forward to the 2007 CIS championships in Montreal Mar. 8-10.

“It’ll be a challenge,” admitted Lamont. “If you look at the rankings this week, we’re ranked number one [on the women’s side.] What it’s going to come down to is our athletes will be focusing their individual successes and the successes of the relay teams. And if they get a team championship, well that’s going to be a bonus.”

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