Glebe track-and-field standouts join Dalhousie Tigers

Kate Collings and Mackenzie Kitchen (middle) are track and field teammates at Dalhousie.
Kate Collings, Glebe Collegiate grad, is competing as a sprinter and hurdler for the Dalhousie University Tigers this year.

By Caitlin Heffernan

Two Glebe Collegiate Institute grads are continuing their track and field careers with the Dalhousie Tigers.

Mackenzie Kitchen will be competing in the high jump, and her classmate Kate Collings will be competing as a sprinter and hurdler.

Kitchen first tried high jump after the track coach at her elementary school told her “you should try this, dancers love doing this kind of stuff.” She had been doing competitive dance, including acrobatics and tumbling, which she says use similar techniques to high jump.

“I tried it out and I loved it,” says Kitchen. “I just love the feeling of being able to get over the bar, the rush afterwards, thankfully not hitting the bar. It was awesome.”

In Grade 11, she quit dance and began to focus on high jump more competitively, but she wasn’t expecting how far she’d get in the sport.

“I was even surprised that I had made a varsity team in the first place, so I wasn’t even thinking that I would pursue anything further on to the future with that.”

Kitchen chose Dalhousie, where she’ll be studying psychology, because its track-and-field program has a more team-oriented atmosphere than her other top schools, Western and Guelph.

“The other two schools were kind of, you’re on your own, you’re trying to fight your own fight and not really focusing on others,” she explained. “And I’m more there for the team, so I just thought that that was a much better fit for me.”

The highlight of her high-school career was at OFSAA East when she was in Grade 11, Kitchen said. The anchor on her 4x100m relay team was injured and the backup had just been stung by a bee, to which she was allergic. Their last option was a ninth grader who had just run her own race. All this was happening in pouring rain. The team was just about ready to give up.

“But for some reason we kept going, we kept persevering. And we had a giant pep talk, and we decided it was going to be the best race ever run. No matter what happens we’re all going to finish as a team,” Kitchen said.

Although they didn’t make it to OFSAA, Kitchen said “we were really proud of ourselves for still doing the race and still going through with everything that we did, because it just shows real team spirit with everyone, even though there were a few bumps in the road.”

Collings was also on that relay team – she was the one injured before the race. She and Kitchen are good friends. In addition to competing for Glebe together, they are also part of the Ottawa Lions track club and have worked at the same summer camp together.

“Just having someone I know so well with me through this big change or step in my life is just kind of reassuring,” Collings said.

Besides track, Collings also competed in cross-country skiing and curling at Glebe.

“The coaches are super helpful and really helped a lot of people, not just me, learn a new sport and excel at it too,” she said.

She started competing in track after really enjoying middle-school track-and-field days, where students got to try out a variety of events.

According to Collings, her best moment on the Glebe track team was when her relay team came fifth at OFSAA when she was in Grade 10.

Mackenzie Kitchen, Glebe Collegiate grad, is studying psychology at Dalhousie while competing in high jump for the Tigers.

“It was a big stadium too, so it was one of my best memories from track and just from high school in general,” she said.

Collings also chose Dal because of the team’s attitude.

“The coaches and the other people on the team all reached out to me and were being super welcoming,” she said. She also has family out east, and her grandfather attended the university as well.

Her number one goal is to do well academically at Dalhousie, where she’ll be studying biochemistry. She’s also hoping to make the finals at the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) championships.

“The training is just going to be kind of a big step up from what I’ve been doing now, just in intensity plus balancing the workload. So it’s a bit nerve wracking, but I’m definitely excited to get going and see what I can do.”

Caitlin Heffernan is a fourth-year journalism and linguistics student at Carleton University who can’t wait until sports are back to normal.

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