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Airdrie track athlete wins gold at Simplot Games

Airdrie’s Sienna MacDonald, 17, is showing her dominance on the track extends beyond Alberta’s borders.

Competing at the 2020 Simplot Games in Idaho Feb. 13 to 15, MacDonald raced to a gold-medal finish in the women’s 60-metre (m) hurdles, enjoying a personal best (PB) time of 8.7 seconds in the final.

“Going into it, I wasn’t expecting to get 8.7,” said MacDonald, who races for the Calgary Warriors Track Club. “I was expecting to PB, but not by that much. I think my PB before was around 8.9 seconds, so it was a pretty decent [performance].”

Now in its 42nd year, the Simplot Games is North America’s premier indoor track-and-field meet for high-school-aged athletes. Held at the Holt Arena at Idaho State University each February, the meet boasts some of the top young track athletes from the United States, Canada and even New Zealand and Australia.

Though it was her first time competing at the meet, MacDonald – now ranked second in Canada for U18 women's 60-m hurdles – didn’t let the level of competition faze her.

“Going into it, I had no clue what any of [my opponents’] times were,” said the George McDougall High School senior. “I just thought it was better for me not to know because that way I’d be running my own race instead of just focusing on what they were doing.”

MacDonald also competed in the 4x200-m relay alongside her Calgary Warriors teammates, finishing seventh.

With her new PB in place, MacDonald is focusing on the 2020 Alberta indoor track-and-field championships, held Feb. 29 to March 1 in Edmonton. Last year, she picked up gold in the U18 women’s 60-metre (m) hurdles, silver in shot put and bronze in both the long jump and 60-m sprint.

She said, her plan this year is to compete in the pentathlon – a five-discipline event that includes running, jumping and throwing elements. No stranger to the pentathlon, MacDonald broke the Alberta Schools Athletic Association record for points gained in the event last spring, while competing for the Mustangs.

As one of Canada’s top pentathletes in her age group, her long-term goal is to secure a track scholarship, and she is weighing the options of attending schools in either the U.S. or Canada.

“I recently practiced with [the team at] Ottawa University Surprise, [in Arizona],” she said. “I’m just kind of trying things out. I might do a few more visits in the U.S.”

MacDonald was not the only athlete representing Airdrie at the Simplot Games, as the Airdrie Aces athletics club sent five athletes.

Competing at her second Games, throws athlete Jinaye Shomachuk – who won a gold in the women’s weight throw last year – brought home silver, with a distance of 16.52 m. The Grade 11 Bert Church High School student also competed in the shot put, finishing fifth.

Medium-distance runner Aiden Good,17, who recently committed to Simon Fraser University’s track-and-field team for next year, finished fourth in the men’s 800-m race – six spots better than he fared the year before. Good’s time of 1:56.45 was just three-one-hundredths of a second away from a spot on the podium.

Bobby Rodgers competed in the 800-m, finishing 67th in the prelims with a time of 2:11.57.

Sprinter Halle Reid finished 25th in the women’s 200-m prelims with a time of 27.15 seconds.

Two-mile runner Willam Grant rounded out the Aces contingent by competing in the 1600-m, however, an injury forced him to pull out of the race.


Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, sports/RCMP reporter
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