Eckville Junior/Senior High School’s athletes did their school proud, earning a series of distinctions last weekend, at the 2017 Alberta Schools Athletic Association Track and Field Provincials.
Many of the athletes earned respectable placings at the Edmonton event. Among them, one student earned status as a provincial champion in the events in which he competed. Five athletes from Eckville Junior/Senior High School made it to provincials, competing in several of the events at provincials.
Isaiah Staples, Keaghan Holub, and Delaini Gillett were the Grade 12 athletes who made it to provincials. Grade 10s Jacob Berdahl and Peace Won also competed in provincials as well.
Berdahl was named the provincial champion in his events of choice – shot put and discus. Berdahl and Won also competed in the 4X100 metre relay race, on a team that ranked fourth in the province.
Staples placed third in the province in the discus event, and ninth in the shot put event. Holub competed in the 1500 metre run, and finished 12th, and the 80 metre run in which he finished in 10th place. Holub also ran on a team that competed in the 4X100 metre relay race – his team ranked fifth in the province. Gillett competed in the shot put event, and ranked ninth in the province.
Coach Cody Magneson expressed a great deal of pride at the accomplishments of the young Eckville athletes who competed against others from all across Alberta, at the Foote Field in Edmonton, on June 2 and 3.
“All the track athletes competed, no matter what size the school they were from,” said Magneson. “Basically, how it works is you have to qualify through zones and top two zones to get to move onto provincials in each category.”
“It was exciting, because it’s an accomplishment for us to qualify when we have to qualify over [places like] Red Deer and Ponoka – all the way up to Camrose and the Saskatchewan border,” said Magneson. “We have a big zone, and a lot of our students, for a zone this big, made it through to provincials.”
Magneson said it was exciting to see the students compete in Foote Field – a stadium famous for hosting national champions and Olympic level athletes at its track.
Berdahl said he felt confident participating in his events, saying “I knew how I would perform. I just didn’t know how others would perform – that was the scary part of it.”
“At first, at a big event like Provincials I find you tend to perform poorly, but once you get used to it, you start to feel motivated and able to perform 100 per cent,” said Berdahl.
Holub admitted the abundance of running he did in his events was exhausting, but also that he enjoys it.
“I’m good at bouncing back and getting into the next event, after sitting down and dying for a few minutes,” quipped Holub. “This was the first time I participated in the 1500-metre in provincials. I was excited to do my best in that. As for the rest of the races, I set goals to run and exceeded each of them with [personal bests] in each race.”
The students took their training for provincials very seriously, Magneson noted, adding “we didn’t have many people at provincials this year, but all the athletes who we took were very dedicated, with multiple years of training at multiple events to get ready for provincials.”
“Provincials are different, because you’re up against everyone in the province,” said Gillett. “You’re not always at your best, because it can be nerve-wracking at first. You get to see where you can improve and learn lots, by competing with the best in the province – it’s a different atmosphere.”
Staples said he felt like he could have thrown better than he did, in shot put and discus at the provincials, but was pleased to have been able to participate.
“In the first round, there’s a wait with 16 people competing – you usually wait about eight to 10 minutes,” said Staples. “But in the final round, it gets intense with only eight people at that point. I wasn’t tired out or overwhelmed because it’s all about having a lot of experience. If you’re experienced and know what you’re doing, you don’t tire out.”
Both Staples and Gillett said with the amount of training they did, they were confident they did the best they could do.
Magneson said the athletes kept to a steady schedule, training 3-4 times a week, often getting up at the crack of dawn for early morning sessions in the gym – or staying after school for afternoon and evening training after their classes were finished for the day.
“These athletes are very dedicated, and trained often,” said Magneson. “They all take track very seriously, and they like the training – they realized the benefits of training often. Each event the students participated in had 16 individuals in it, but a lot of people got eliminated along the way – they have to go through their school, and areas and zones just to get to provincials.”
Another distinction Eckville Junior/Senior High School earned was its cumulative team points. Overall, the school’s team earned second in team points, out of 126 other schools of the same size in the province.