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Knelsen attains standard for world juniors

 Knelsen achieves long pursued goal


   Disappointment of last summer gone with a PB effort in first 800 metre run this year

   making the 18-year eligible for the World Juniors track and field championships



  March 2, 2022


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By Rob. J. Ross 

For three years Hallee Knelsen has been carrying a goal of making a National team.

With a personal best performance in the 800 metre race, of two minutes 6.74 seconds (2:06.74), at the Boston University Last Chance Qualifier indoor meet this past weekend, Knelsen finished under the 2:07.2 standard, making her eligible for the world junior (U20) track and field championships, in Cali, Columbia, this August.

The 18-year resident of Malahide and member of the Western Mustangs' track team, now owns the fastest time in Canada for U20 women this year, by nearly four seconds.

"It's definitely a weight off of my shoulders. I won't be chasing that 2:07.2 all summer again. I've given myself a very good shot to make the team," Knelsen said. "I hit the standard so I put myself in the running, but I still have to be top two in Canada. I'm in a very good position to make the team."

Two variables remain in the team selection criteria, for Knelsen to be heading for South America. Her time must hold up as top two fastest until the qualifying period ends on July 10, and her placement at Athletics Canada U20 championships, in Langley, B.C., June 22-26. The team will be announced on July 11.

At Boston, Knelsen finished fourth in an 800 race won by Olympian Lindsey Butterworth.

"It was a really good race. I kind of ran it my own way. I was gapped by everyone on the first two laps. My splits, I ran 31-something for every lap (four laps total). My second half of the race was a bit faster than my first half, which isn't typical," Knelsen said. "What helped was when I was behind after the first two laps, I didn't get frazzled. I stayed calm and ran my own pace and that ended up working for me. The difference was the third lap. Usually the third lap is the slowest and it was actually my fastest."

With 200 metres to go and 600 metres completed in 1:35.5, Knelsen felt if she kept her pace, she was sure she'd make the standard.

"It was really amazing when I crossed the line. It wasn't by a few hundredths either. As soon as I crossed, I knew I did it, which is really, really cool. I didn't have to wait to see my time because I just knew," said Knelsen. "I was a little bit in shock. I knew I was in shape, but I didn't expect to run 2:06. I was very very, happy. I might have cried a little bit, just happy tears."

Knelsen collapsed on the infield, one hand over her face, filled with emotion, realizing what she'd just accomplished, after coming agonizingly close last summer.

In her first 800 of the season, Knelsen crushed the standard and then chose to auto qualify for the 600 metre run at the U Sports championships, in Saint John, New Brunswick, March 31-April 2. There is no 800 at U Sports, therefore athletes who meet the converted standard can decide between the 600 or 1000.

"I wasn't basing my entire race on whether I was successful or not on those things. I knew I'd be happy even if I ran 2:08, but I definitely didn't expect to run 2:06," Knelsen said. "It was hard not hitting standard after last summer. I knew I was in shape for it, but I just didn't have the perfect race I needed. Hitting it now is really awesome and such a weight off of my shoulders. All of my races won't be based on just hitting that number this summer. It was a little emotional."

Missing the 2:07.2 standard last year lingered with Knelsen, her best effort during the qualifying period was 2:08.10. On pace during her final attempt at Athletics Ontario (AO) U20 championships, Knelsen struggled in the final 50 metres, still winning gold by over two seconds, in 2:09.16, but missing her goal. Four times Knelsen finished in the 2:08 range. A PB of 2:07.44 came at the AO open championships.

"It still made me sad, just thinking of the opportunity and I know I could have been on that team if I had the right race," said Knelsen. "That was always a little bit disappointing and knowing that I really wanted to make it last year and this season, 2022, will be my last season to make a junior team."

In 2019, Knelsen met the standard (2:13.50) for the U18 NACAC (North America, Central America and Caribbean) championships, in Querétaro, Mexico, but two other runners had faster times than her 2:11.48.

Then covid wiped out the 2020 outdoor season.

"I just felt I've been waiting a long time to make a National team because I've been going at this since 2019," Knelsen said. "It was really hard not to make it last year. Coming in to this season, I know probably my biggest goal of the year is the world juniors team. It's nice to have that standard already."

On the U Sports time rankings for this season, Knelsen is number three for the 600 and number four for the 1000 metres.

Her 800 time places Knelsen fourth fastest female all-time for Athletics Canada U20 women indoors.

At the University of Western, Knelsen was named the Mustangs track and field female athlete of the week, for the week ending Feb. 27.

Upon collecting her emotions, Knelsen noticed her phone had blown up.

"I checked and I had so many texts from all my teammates. My coach called and then I called my mom."

Good chance, Knelsen's parents, Maggie and Henry, will have to start looking at flights to Columbia.







Related articles:

     Knelsen strong early 

     OUA resumes for local athletes

    Knelsen breaks 43-year old record

    Memorable summer for Knelsen

    Golden yet not satisfied    

    Knelsen will run with Mustangs




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