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Knelsen returns to U Sports

Knelsen returns to U Sports track 

   

 The Western Mustangs sophomore from Malahide has four races 

  the women's 600 and 1000 meter runs and two relays at Nationals

 

 March 7, 2023

 

 

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Hallee Knelsen, of Malahide, with the Western Mustangs, in the women's 4x800-meter relay at the OUA track and field championships, February 24-25 in Windsor. (photo / Mundo Sports Images)

  

 

By Rob J. Ross 

LONDON, Ont. - Hallee Knelsen is heading to U Sports indoor track and field for not one, two or three, but in four events.

The 19-year old sophomore with the Western Mustangs returns to the national championships for Canadian Universities, in the women's 600 and 1000 meter runs and the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter relay races.

The Mustangs' women's 4x4 and 4x8 relay teams were never in doubt to qualify for U Sports, winning silver in both races at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships, February 24-25.

However the Malahide resident needed season best performances in both of her individual events.

A year ago at U Sports, held in Saint John, New Brunswick, Knelsen helped the Mustangs win gold in the 4x8 and bronze in the 4x4, while finishing seventh in both the 600 and 1000.

"This season has been more challenging. It's definitely more competitive this year too," said Knelsen. "Everyone is in peak fitness, so the times to get to U Sports are a lot faster this year and then I had a lot of set backs".

A top 12 position on the U Sports rankings are required for the U Sports championships, this year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, March 9-11.
Prior to OUA's, Knelsen was tied 11th in the 600 and outside of the top 12 in the 1000.

"It's good especially making it at the last minute," Knelsen said. "If I didn't perform at OUs I wouldn't be going in either individual event. It was comforting knowing I was going in relays, but it was nice to get in with the individual events."

Knelsen just missed a medal in the 600, finishing fourth in a time of one minute and 33.22 seconds (1:33.22, converted to 1:32.49 based on track size) and set personal best time of 2:49.14 (2:47.32 converted), in the 1000.

Heading into U Sports, Knelsen now ranks ninth in the 600 and 11th fastest in the 1000.

"It was my first big PB. I hadn't come that close to this season but I knew it was there," said Knelsen. "After all the tough races this season it was really good, to not only get back to where I was, but better. I've been fit all season, but a lot of things haven't gone my way. Finally I pieced together a couple of races that showed my fitness. I've been fit all along but had a lot happen."
 

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Hallee Knelsen, of Malahide, with the Western Mustangs, in the women's 4x800-meter relay at the OUA track and field championships, February 24-25 in Windsor. (photo / Mundo Sports Images)

  

The biggest set back was a fall during a mid season race when Knelsen was tripped resulting in a broken left wrist.

"When it happened it took a toll and I underestimated that at first, like I can run with a broken wrist, but it was a big fall. I hyper-extended my elbow and had a contusion on my knee and a lot of scrapes and bruises," Knelsen said. "I tried racing the next weekend and that didn't go well. I had a cast on that was too tight and cut my circulation while I ran."

By the time of OUAs, Knelsen was accustomed to wearing a brace on her wrist and set to have season best efforts on the track. A shot of confidence was "a little PB" in the 600 meters a week prior.

"I was running well in practice so I knew it was there. I just needed the right race," said Knelsen. "I just needed to go out there and run and whatever I did would be the best I could do. Even if I didn't make it, I ran PB. I would be disappointed if I didn't make it, but I would have at least felt like I put my best race in."

Although a brief sample size, Knelsen seems to perform well in Windsor, the host of the 2023 OUAs. Her first two university meets last season were at Windsor, when Knelsen finished third in the 1000 and second in the 600, both indoor PBs at the time.

Out west at U Sports, Knelsen hopes to help the relay teams reach the podium. The University of Guelph Gryphons are the favourites for both relays and the women's team title.

"Guelph has quite the gap on everyone this year, (but) we're definitely in the running for a medal," said Knelsen. "I like to score points for the team so overall we can get a medal again. That would be great. Knowing the competition is really fierce, putting out my best races and hopefully more PBs. I seem to always run 1:33 in the 600, but based off practice I know I'm a lot faster than that. Be nice to break that. It feels like I have nothing to lose and just go out there and do my best."
 

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Hallee Knelsen, of Malahide, with the Western Mustangs, in the women's 4x800-meter relay at the OUA track and field championships, February 24-25 in Windsor. (photo / Mundo Sports Images)

  

 

 


        rob@hometownplay.ca

 

 

 

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