You don’t have to be a world-beater in long-distance running to compete in track and field. The accessible sport, and the Charles Hays Secondary School/Grade 8 team, welcomes athletes from all backgrounds, including rugby, soccer, basketball or even dance.
Skills and fitness levels developed in those sports translate to a great starting point for track, said Charles Hays (CHSS) head coach Dighton Haynes last week after zones wrapped up in Prince Rupert in mid-May. The CHSS juniors and seniors came in second overall as a team behind Smithers.
Both dedicated track athletes and newcomers to the sport excelled in zones, which CHSS and the middle school hosted May 18-19.
Henry Vo, a dedicated athlete on the Prince Rupert squad, took home the coveted Top Junior Male Athlete distinction, with four first-place finishes in 100m hurdles, and high, long and triple jump. Vo also came in second in the 100m dash.
Marlee McDonald, a Grade 9 athlete coming from soccer, was named runner-up Junior Female Athlete, garnering three firsts in 800m, 1500m and 3000m.
“Henry’s a nice little success story because he’s been running second to Eric Lees. Eric played soccer and Henry stepped up. [At zones] he was fantastic,” said Haynes.
“Marlee’s a soccer player and I heard from her coaches that this girl can run and run and run. She came out to the track meet without knowing what pace to run and she got three firsts and qualified for provincials.”
Haynes is impressed with all his team members this season. Some have been with the team since the beginning in April and some attended zones as their first meet of the year.
“I’m very proud of all the athletes we had on our team, from Ezekiel Appollos, who came out and worked on his throwing and attention to detail trying to improve his throw, to Andrew Lowther and the technical part of working on his hurdles, to Kennedy Weir who was working on her high jump. These people did really well and I was really pleased with what they were able to accomplish this season,” said the coach.
Despite great finishes and placings, Haynes wants to see athletes focus on beating their own personal bests. The rest falls into place after that.
“We go into the meet and we get a chance to talk about their expectations, what times we are looking at, what’s our measurement. We’re not talking about finishing first, second or third … The ribbons and places take care of themselves,” he said.
The two-day zones meet was the first time Rupert hosted the season’s finale event in approximately 15 years, with the meet usually being hosted in Smithers. CHSS does host a regular meet every year at its track.
Smithers came out in large numbers and Rupert brought 21 of its own athletes – a good figure (some soccer and dance athletes came out and did themselves proud, said the coach), but the numbers could be higher. The season is short, running from early April to early June and has three meets per year, including zones. “Any athlete who is interested in running, throwing, jumping and knows that they’re good and wants to challenge and see how they can compare with the rest of the province, they should come out,” Haynes said.
Overall, 102 athletes from nine schools attended zones. Smithers swept all three divisions – seniors, juniors and Grade 8.
Heading to provincials in Langley from June 1-3 are Vo, Jason Rioux, Robert Warren and Arden Stewart. A few more qualified but couldn’t make the trip.
Many Rupertites achieved personal bests at zones and just as many had terrific finishes. Rioux won long and triple jump and placed second in high jump and third in 100m.
Warren won shot put and set a new zones record, Stewart won javelin and placed second in discus.
Brittany Waite won 100m, Alison Uppal won shot put and placed third in 400m, Emily Cavin won 400m hurdles, Kennedy Weir placed first in high and long jump and third in 400m, and Kaia Jackson finished second in shot put and third in long jump.
Lowther garnered third in 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles and fifth in 400m, Jordan Weir placed second in 800m, Reagan Pomponio notched third in 800m, and Halle Atchison placed fifth in 200m.
London Clouthier took sixth in 100m, Robyn Grant finished third in 100m and 200m, Appollos notched third in javelin, fourth in 200m, long jump and discus and fifth in 100m, and Akemi Storey took second in 1500m and fifth in javelin.
The 4x100 relay team of Kennedy, Stewart, Storey and Waite grabbed second.