Pair gets chance to represent Canada internationally
Gordie Howe Sports Complex
|Michelle Harrison and Nicole Ostertag are track and field standouts.|
Harrison and Ostertag are part of the current generation of a long line of athletes that have come from Saskatoon and excelled in the track and field world. Harrison, who is 29-years-old, won the women’s 100-metre hurdles final at the Canadian Olympic track and field trials that doubled as the Canadian nationals in June of 2021, and Ostertag, who is 22-years-old, is a national standout in the women’s heptathlon.
Both will compete in the Canadian Track and Field Championships that run later this month from June 22 to 26 in Langley, B.C. Both have represented Canada on the international stage and aim to continue representing Canada in future internationals events.
“It is definitely a privilege to work with athletes of their calibre,” said Jason Reindl, who is the head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Track and Field teams and is a high-performance track and field coach in Saskatoon. “It is just always fun to see where they go, where they can compete and the opportunities that kind of present themselves at the highest levels of the sport.”
Harrison, who is an alumna of the Huskies track program, represented Canada at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, where she finished in a tie for 15th overall in the women’s 60-metre hurdles. In April, Harrison took part in a training camp in California and won the 100-metre women’s hurdles title in the Bryan Clay Invitational, the Beach Invitational and the Steve Scott Invitational, which were all held in that state.
Also in April, Harrison traveled to Eugene, Oregon, and took the women’s 100-metre hurdles title at the Oregon Relays.
|Michelle Harrison competed at indoor worlds in March.|
“The indoor season started out well,” said Harrison, who stands 5-foot-6. “I was able to make the world indoor team, which was my standard for the indoor season, so I was able to achieve that goal.
“I’m hoping to just use that momentum and move forward into outdoors and hopefully be able to make the world outdoor team as well. My hope is to run the world standard this year, which is 12.84 (seconds).”
She did indeed run the world standard. On June 8 at the Royal City Inferno Track and Field Festival in Guelph, Ont., Harrison ran a personal best time twice with her fastest run in the 100-metre hurdles coming in at 12.80 seconds. Her second fastest time at that event of 12.83 seconds also bested the world standard.
Harrison aims to compete in the World Athletics Championships that run July 15 and 24 in Eugene, Oregon. Following worlds, she would like to take part in the Commonwealth Games, which run July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham, England.
After the Commonwealth Games, Harrison would like to compete at the North American, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Senior Championships slated for August 19 to 21 in Grand Bahama, Bahamas.
Harrison has enjoyed getting back into a steady competition schedule after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that gripped the world caused numerous cancellations in 2020 and 2021.
“I think the best part is just getting out and having some consistency, where as the past two years you never really knew what was going on more than like a couple of days ahead of time,” said Harrison. “I really like having a plan and being able to like have relative certainty these X-amount of meets are going to happen and be able to get in consecutive workouts as well especially because I dealt with lots of injuries during COVID.
|Nicole Ostertag is quickly putting up good results in the heptathlon.|
Ostertag is still a relative newcomer to track and field having taken up the sport in her Grade 12 year at Holy Cross High School in 2017-18. She is currently a member of the Huskies track team.
A lower leg injury sidelined her for the 2021-22 U Sports season with the Huskies, and she got back more in the swing of things around the time she joined Harrison in California for that training camp in April. Ostertag returned to full training about a week before she left for the training camp in California.
Taking part in the Bryan Clay Invitational, she placed second among 25 competitors in her division in the women’s heptathlon.
The women’s heptathlon includes the 200-metre race, the 800-metre race, the 100-metre hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin throw.
Ostertag’s result at the Bryan Clay Invitational allowed her to earn a spot to represent Canada at the at the NACAC Combined Events Championship that ran May 14 and 15 in Ottawa, Ont. At that event, Ostertag, who was representing Canada for the first time in her track and field career, placed second in the women’s heptathlon setting personal bests in the 200-metre race, the 800-metre race, the 100-metre hurdles, high jump, long jump and javelin throw.
Due to lost training time because of her injury troubles, Ostertag is still looking to round into top form.
“I haven’t done as much training as I would have liked, but it is coming along quickly,” said Ostertag, who stands 5-foot-8. “I’m surprising myself I guess.
|Michelle Harrison has her sights set on making worlds in July.|
“You’ve always got to be adaptable with combined events too. There is a little more wiggle room.”
Ostertag will join Harrison at the Canadian Track and Field Champions. Following that event, Ostertag has her sights set on competing at the Canada Games that will run August 6 to 21 in Niagara, Ont., before returning to the U of S to rejoin the Huskies and continue her academic studies in kinesiology.
“Winning nationals would be the ultimate goal for this season,” said Ostertag. “Canada Games is in August, and I would also love to win that one as well.
“I’m actually happy to be able to compete in Canada and have a little bit more of a low-key summer.”
Reindl expects Harrison and Ostertag to make noise in the track and field world for some time to come. He said their ability to zero in and complete what they need to do in training on a day to day basis helps them excel in track and field at an elite level.
When they are in Saskatoon, Reindl said it has been big for them to train at the Track and Field Track and Indoor Training Centre at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
|Nicole Ostertag is aiming for first at nationals and Canada Games.|
“You can have all the determination in the world, but you need to have somewhere to go and somewhere to train and somewhere to work. This is why on a Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. we’re able to come out here and have a focused high-quality training environment, which is truly world class for what we are trying to achieve.”