Nicole Betker, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON - The University of Saskatchewan Huskies track and field teams kick off their 2018 season with the 48th annual Sled Dog Open running Friday and Saturday at the Saskatoon Field House.
The 2018 version of the Huskies includes 34 men and 49 women competing under new head coach and University of Saskatchewan alumni Jason Reindl. The group looks leave their mark on the first and only track and field event at home, on the path to the Canada West Championships in Winnipeg on February 23- 24.
This season, Reindl is excited to build off of the success he found last season coaching for the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in the Atlantic University Sport conference. Reindl earned coach of the year honour in the conference after his men's program finished second and the women finished third.
"This is all about getting the opportunity to compete to see where were our athletes are at," said Reindl. "We've had some great training to this point, staying consistent over the holiday break has been a point of emphasis. Our schedule kind of kicks into high gear after this opening event – competing in Edmonton and Manitoba within the next three weeks – and we are really looking to get off on the right foot."
Reindl has plenty of talent he's eager to watch this weekend.
Courtney Hufsmith is fresh off a first-place finish as a cross country runner in the eight-kilometre Sled Dog Open in September. JulieAnn Labach is a dual-sport athlete fresh off her fourth season with Huskie soccer who holds a handful of Canada West medals in both sports.
On the men's side, 2012 Canada West triple jump champion Cossy Nachilobe returns to the green and white for his final year of eligibility and members of the 2017 gold medal 4X200-metre relay team will also compete in sprints. Men's team captain Kieran Johnston enters the season from a multi-medal performance at the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
The Sled Dog Open also features the Elementary School Relays and a full complement of track & field events for the athletes in the bantam, midget, juvenile, junior and senior age categories.
Admission for the event is $5 to help support Huskie student-athletes.
All fans can park free of charge at the Saskatoon Field House, in the UofS parking lot east of the Saskatoon Field House or in the Stadium Parkade, just west of the Saskatoon Field House.
The action begins at the Saskatoon Field House on Friday at 4 p.m. with the open track & field event. The elementary school relay event runs Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.