Knelsen finishes year
one atop podium
In her first year with the Western Mustangs the
18-year old Malahide resident
concludes her track season at U-Sports with four
top sevens including gold
By Rob. J. Ross
THOMAS - Her smile showed it all.
Standing atop the podium with her 4x800-metre relay
teammates, Hallee Knelsen could reflect on a
memorable first year with the Western Mustangs, that
concluded at the U-Sports track and field
18-year old Malahide resident brought home a gold
medal in the 4x8, a bronze from the 4x400-metre
relay and seventh place finishes, in both the 600
and 1000 metre runs, at the meet for Canadian
universities, March 31-April 2, in St. John, New
proved to myself that I can be a competitor with the
best in Canadian university," Knelsen said. "I think
also I learned how beneficial it is to have a big
supportive team. I really like the team aspect of
it. I love my team. It definitely makes everything
Capturing gold also earned Knelsen recognition as a First Team All-Canadian, along with her relay mates Chloe Hewitt and the Coutts sisters, Sophie and Chloe.
Knelsen's results contributed to the Western women
placing third overall in the team standings.
really exciting. Definitely for my first season, I'm
really happy with it. I'm really proud of what I
accomplished this season," Knelsen said. "It's been
a good progression. I've improved in all of my races
since the beginning of the season."
success at U-Sports followed a three medal
performance, along with a fourth place finish, at
the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships
in mid March, where Knelsen was named female rookie
of the year.
"Hallee has been an amazing individual on our team,"
said Guy Schultz, Mustangs' middle distance coach.
"She's very coachable. She's always wanting to learn
more and she's always asking questions and asking
why we do things. To be able to win a national
championship in her first year, is amazing."
first year, Knelsen displayed the mentality of a
more senior competitor.
almost seems like one of our upper athletes because
she takes really good care of herself," Schultz
said. "She eats well, gets massages, treatment,
stretching, doing strength, keeping on top of
things. It's rare that you see that in a first year
athlete. She obviously wants to be one of the best
runners in Canada."
Winning the 4x800-metre relay race in a school
record time, of eight minutes and 47.17 seconds
(8:47.17), was the pinnacle race for Knelsen at
"I was super happy. We had the right race at the
right time," Knelsen said. "It was really good. I
think I ran really well. Since I got the baton in
first it was really hard to know what was going on
behind me, but I ran a leg I was really happy with."
Handing the baton to Hewitt, the team's fourth
runner, the Mustangs were good shape, but Knelsen
wasn't celebrating yet.
knew we were in a really good position, but I know
Guelph and Saskatchewan have really strong fourth
legs," Knelsen said. "I didn't want to assume we're
going to win too early. I knew anything could happen
in a relay."
maintained the lead, with Saskatchewan finishing
second in , followed by Guelph, the pre-race
favourite and the team the Mustangs has been chasing
"Hallee's job, if we got in to the lead, was to go
hard and not let the other girls catch up to them at
all. That's exactly what she did," Schultz said. "We
knew we had a really good chance to win for sure,
but we knew they all had to run their best race. It
was a little surprising, but at the same time
they're all committed young ladies."
Knelsen was most proud to win gold with Hewitt and
the Coutts sisters.
it with the team is really exciting and special. We
definitely earned that spot so it felt nice,"
Knelsen said. "Three of us are rookies and it's
Hewitt's last year. I was really happy for her. I
was glad she got to anchor that and it was really
cool that she was able to cross the line in first.
To get her a gold at her last one (U-Sports) is
to opponents across the country, it'll be three more
years for Knelsen and the Coutts sisters.
really looking forward to the next years," Knelsen
said. "It's looking to be a bright future for the
4x4 relay, Knelsen, Sophie Coutts, Favour Okpali and
Rosemary Holmes, finished third, behind champion
Guelph and silver medalist Saskatchewan, in a time
debut race at U-Sports, Knelsen was seventh, in the
women's 600 (1:34.32), missing advancing to the
final, by one position.
two, Knelsen again finished seventh, in the
always leery having a first year run that many
events," Schultz said. "So we were going to play it
be ear and see how she did after every event. But
she keeps surprising us every time. Even in the
1000, she ran really hard to catch up and we knew
she still has some left in her."
races on consecutive days at both the National and
provincial meets was a test for Knelsen. Usually it
is two day meets during the OUA season, but COVID
greatly affected this season's schedule.
only had one day meets leading up to OUs and
USports, so being able to handle that many races and
still run well was good," said Knelsen, who raced
five times in 48 hours in St. John.
Mustangs' track captain Kate Current, who won both
the 1500 and 3000 metre races at U-Sports, quickly
noticed Knelsen's unique talent and dedication to
has such a positive mentality when it comes to
training. There isn't really anything negative that
ever comes out of her mouth, said Current. "As a
rookie, it's really impressive. It's so easily to
come into university and be overwhelmed by the level
of talent. I don't think that has phased Hallee. She
has learned a lot from each race that she has run."
Current, who was this week named the Mustangs' 2022
female track and field MVP, offers some tips to
Knelsen, who may one day hold the same honour.
is a very smart racer for a rookie. She's already
ahead of the field," Current said. "I would advise
her when she's doing invitationals and for the
summer season, really practice different race
strategies. I know Hallee likes to start
conservative and kick girls down at the end, because
she has that monstrous kick. But I think it would be
interesting to see her go hard from the start and
take the lead. Mix things up and learn different
ways to race. That'll really come handy when you get
in to championship races. A lot can happen and you
have be be ready for anything."
her first year, Knelsen is satisfied, but already
working on moving forward.
"Overall, it was really good, but still a lot of
room for improvement," said Knelsen, who plans for
more training throughout the summer.
4x800 is the highlight from U-Sports, but Knelsen's
most memorable moment of her rookie season, is
attaining the standard for the U20 World
championships, in the 800-metres, at Boston
University, in February.
Knelsen will continue striving to improve her PB
time of 2:06.74, ensuring a spot with Team Canada,
for the event, in Cali, Columbia, this August.
the summer outdoor season, Knelsen will return to
the St. Thomas Legion club with coach Harry
Stantsos, focusing on the 800 and 1500 metres.
career progresses, there will certainly be more
moments for Knelsen to be smiling.