Skip to content

Outdoor track season in full swing for Thunderwolves

Lakehead athletes are gearing up for the Canadian championships in Montreal later this month.

THUNDER BAY – After a strong indoor campaign, the Lakehead Thunderwolves track and field team aren’t resting on their laurels.

The squad has been competing in Canada and the United States over the last month as they gear up for the 2024 nationals, which take place from June 26-30 in Montreal.

“There wasn’t much of a break,” Thunderwolves 100-metre sprinter Niko Dowhos said. “I think we had a week off after the U Sports (indoor) nationals in March and then we were back at it.

“It’s a little bit of a shortened year because of the Summer Olympics also, so it was important to get back out there training.”

In May, the Thunderwolves ventured down to La Crosse, Wisc. and London for competitions. They are also travelling to Calgary for a competition on June 16 as a tune-up for the nationals.

In addition to battling the elements and taking on some of the top athletes in North America at these meets, there are some differences in the events that the Thunderwolves compete in at this time of the year.

For Dowhos, there’s an extra 20m of running he has to do instead of just the 60m dash he does at the U Sports level.

In the case of 110m hurdler Rami Gharsalli, it’s all about finding room to train for his event.

“We do a lot of our practices inside during the year, especially with the way the weather is here in Thunder Bay,” said Gharsalli, who spent five years in the NCAA Division II ranks at Northwood University in Midland, Mich., before committing to Lakehead in 2022.

“That can be a challenge sometimes when you start doing the outdoor events, but we’ve been getting better and better each time out and I think that shows with our overall results.”

Dowhos, Gharsalli, Amy Stieh, Sydney White, Aly Da Silva, Megan Bryson, Ben Lawson, and Jacob Turek have all represented the school at the meets.

Thunderwolves track and field head coach Joe McDonough said that it has been great to take the team the outdoor competitions, especially the one in La Crosse.

“Down in the States, track and field is a completely different animal,” McDonough added.

“The spot we are in right now is similar to where we were during the indoor season and we were getting strong national results. We have historically been underdogs but now we have some expectations around us.”

Dowhos and Gharsalli are leading the charge for the Thunderwolves ahead of their meet in Calgary.

Dowhos is currently ranked 10th nationally in the 100m dash with a time of 10.32 seconds, which was set on May 10 in LaCrosse.

“There’s definitely some added confidence that comes from that time, especially as I did that against some super-fast guys from the United States,” Dowhos said.

On that same day, Gharsalli set a time of 14.33 seconds in the 110m hurdle event. That puts him eighth overall in the Canadian rankings.

“You are always setting the bar high no matter where it is that you are competing,” Gharsalli said.

“I feel pretty good about how I’ve been doing in the first half of my races, but it’s the last 35 meters that I’m working on getting better at."

Those results have put Dowhos and Gharsalli in the mix to possibly compete in the finals at the nationals in Montreal, which also serve as the selection trials for the upcoming Summer Games in Paris.

Having reached the semifinals at the nationals last year, Dowhos knows what it’s like to go up against Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown.

“It would be nice to make the national finals but the overall goals that I’ve set for myself haven’t really changed a lot with what I’ve been able to do this year,” Dowhos said.

“I’m a person that tries to adapt to things as they are happening. My results have come through a gradual build-up and not through a breakout performance out of nowhere.”

Major meets like the nationals are nothing new for Gharsalli. He won a silver and bronze medal at the NCAA Division II championships and has represented his home country of Tunisia on the world junior stage.

He admitted that it never becomes truly normal to be in a situation like that.

“You just have to treat it like any other competition,” Gharsalli said.

“If I’m in shape and I’m where I need to be both mentally and physically, I can make an impact. I just have to wake up feeling dangerous that day.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks