Turns out, hosting a track and field meet at Charles Hays has more than one advantage for young, coastal Prince Rupert athletes.
Not only do they not have to spend hours in a bus, potentially cramping their knees and legs, but the newly-installed Charles Hays track is, not surprisingly, one of the best in the region.
“This is a really nice field, so it’s really awesome to be able to have [a meet] here this year,” said track member and Charles Hays (CHSS) student Quin Diep on Saturday.
“The advantage of having a meet here is that we actually have a good track,” said the lone CHSS 2014 provincials-qualifying athlete, Kevin Rioux.
“In Terrace, they have a pavement track so it’s hard to use the spiked shoes.”
CHSS track and field head coach Dighton Haynes led his team through their first meet of the year on the weekend and they impressed with a second-overall team placing with 303 points, combining the Grade 8 athletes from Prince Rupert Middle School (PRMS). Smithers athletes claimed first with 356 and Terrace third, taking 206 points.
“With this being the first meet, it’s time to see what we sort of have and then we’ll assess it after the day and work on each person’s performances,” said the Haynes.
“It’s a lot easier for athletes to [come out to the meet] when they’re not travelling, so this will probably be our largest turnout.”
Despite the smaller team this year, the coach is confident his athletes can make some noise around the region.
Saturday’s athletic showcase began with steeplechase, with javelin and discus at Prince Rupert Middle School, followed by the various distance races and relays at the high school, coinciding with high jump, long jump, triple jump and shot put.
In the girls’ Grade 8 100 metre dash final, Prince Rupert’s Maddison Abrahams claimed second-overall and second again in the 400m run. PRMS’ Jessica Nguyen took third. In the 800m Grade 8 girls’ race, Coast Tsimshian’s Rechee Auckland-Horne nabbed third. Her fellow student, Carissa Cooper took third in the 1, 500m Grade 8 girls’ race.
And not only were the schools sharing the field with each other, but also with some minor soccer players, who were working on drills and scrimmages, making for a busy Saturday noon-hour CHSS parking lot.
Rupert faced some tough competition from all areas of the region, but some of the athletes found that Smithers in particular put up quite the test for the North Coast-based students. Their contingent was just as large as the hometown Rainmakers.
“I would say Smithers is one of the toughest schools right now,” said Diep.
Each athlete has their own specialty or area of interest in the events.
Diep excelled in the throwing categories, while athletes such as Rioux or Cody Schaeffer liked the distance or jump events.
“I like javelin toss. It’s the toughest, but it’s also my favourite because it’s all about form and not really anything to do with strength. I really like that. You would have to consistently practice and every time I practice I get a little better,” Diep said.
Rioux’s little brother Jason is on the team as well, and they both got a taste of competitive distance running for the first time this season.
“I love running,” said Kevin, who also swept all three jumping categories on Saturday: long, triple and high.
“I’ve been running all year since last summer, but I took about two weeks off [from training], so I’m not used to it, but either way I’ll be ready for zones.”
Any goals for the graduating senior on the team?
“I just want to make it back to provincials,” said Kevin, who hurt his heel jumping at the B.C. competition last year, but still finished with two top-15 placements.
“He’s had great practice times in distances and now it’s just a question of putting things together in meets,” said Haynes.
Hazelton, Nisga’a and Lax Kw’alaams rounded out fourth, fifth and sixth respectively with 203, 183 and 136 points for their teams.
Coast Tsimshian’s Beatrice Sankey grabbed third in the girls’ junior 100m dash and second in the 400m.
For the boys, PRMS’ Sherangad Sahai and Angad Chugh finished first and second respectively in boys’ Grade 8 100m dash. Sahai took second in 200m and 400m and David Armstrong nabbed third in 400m. Stanley Sankey took first in Grade 8 boys’ 1,500m run for Coast Tsimshian.
It was a 1-2-3 sweep for the host team in the junior boys’ 100m dash. Schaeffer took first, Jason Rioux second and Cole Jeffrey third. Schaeffer followed that up with a first-place showing in 200m and Jason Rioux took third.
In the 400m, Schaeffer once again claimed first-place.
Ezekiel Appollos grabbed second in junior boys’ 1,500, steeplechase and Kevin Rioux was first in senior boys’ 100m dash. Teammate Diep was third. Kevin Rioux grabbed first again in 200m dash.
Cooper took third-place in Grade 8 girls’ long jump and Auckland-Horne hopped to first in triple jump. Coast Tsimshian’s Alex Tait nabbed first in Grade 8 girls’ 3.0K shot put and Cooper took second in 500g javelin throw. Beatrice Sankey captured first in junior girls’ long jump and second in junior girls’ 3.0K shot put. In Grade 8 boys’ long jump, Stanley Sankey grabbed second for Coast Tsimshian and Sahai took third. Stanley then nabbed first in triple jump.
Sahai captured third in boys’ 4.0K shot put and second in 600g javelin throw and Jason Rioux claimed first in junior boys’ high jump. For junior boys’ long jump, Schaeffer took first and Jason Rioux second.
Trevor Uppal grabbed second in junior boys’ 4.0K shot put and Kevin Rioux swept three first-place finishes in senior boys’ high, long and triple jump.
Diep grabbed first in senior boys’ 12 lb shot put, second in 1.6K discus throw and third in 800g javelin throw.