Guelph Gryphons sprinter Kristian Benjamin is going to call on the experience he gained a year ago at the Ontario university track and field championship meet.
Benjamin finds himself in the same position he was last year as he heads to next weekend's OUA championships needing to put in a good time in order to qualify for the CIS national university championship meet.
"Obviously I wanted to qualify earlier this year, but I think that I personally perform better under extreme pressure," he said Saturday after competing in the Guelph Gryphons Last Chance Meet at the Gryphon Fieldhouse. "The OUAs is going to be a pressure situation so I'll run well and execute what I need to do."
The third-year sprinter came up just a little short Saturday in his bid to nail down an automatic qualifying berth at the national meet. He won the men's 60 metres in 6.97 seconds, just a little off the CIS qualifying standard of 6.86 seconds. He can also get into the national meet by being one of the fastest 12 in the country.
"The time I needed to get into the top 12 was 6.94," he said. "My (personal best) is 6.90. If I'd run that, I would've been top five in the country, but the way this sport works, it's ups and downs. You just kind of have to brush off this race and move on to the next one."
Benjamin also missed on his bid to seal a berth in the CIS tournament at the Last Chance Meet last year, but gained it a week later at the OUA provincial championships by moving into the top 12. He'll be looking to repeat that feat this week.
"I was in the same spot last year and I pulled it off," he said. "I think I'm better this year. I'm in better shape, I've been running better and mentally I'm stronger so I'll be able to do what I need to do."
He'll spend the next four days getting ready for the provincial meet, working on what he needs to improve to gain a fraction of a second.
"I'll gear up, spend the next week training hard and hit the time I need there," he said.
He and Gryphon sprint coach Jason Kerr have come up with a plan for the week that includes some tough work early in the week and then some rest later in the week to make sure he's ready for his race Saturday, the second day of the two-day OUA championship meet at the University of Windsor.
"It's either you run fast there or you have to call it quits for the season," Benjamin said. "I'm not ready to call it quits for the season so I'll do what I need to do."
The CIS championship meet, a three-day affair, is to go March 10 to 12 at York University.