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Local athletes making their mark on the track
It's been an eventful month for the East Kootenay Track and Field club.
The season kicked off with their first event at the beginning of May with a meet in Trail, followed by another meet in Kamloops featuring senior athletes, before capping it off with high school zone championships two weeks ago.
The Trail meet was a qualifier for the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo in July, and five local athletes from the club qualified for a number of different events.
The meet attracted a record 140 athletes, and only those who finished in first and second place in their events qualified for the Summer Games.
Sarah Andreas and Justin Marsh will be representing in pentathlon, while Samara Shiefner, Emma Murtagh and Jacob Sebben all tallied impressive results in events such as long jump, 100-metre dash and javelin throw.
In addition to qualifying for the Summer Games, the EKTFC was also represented at the East-West Kootenay High School in the middle of the month, with 170 athletes from 11 schools in competition at the College of the Rockies track facility.
In overall school championship category, Parkland Middle School finished in third, while Mount Baker Secondary School finished fifth—with a large majority of those athletes under the tutelage of EKTFC head coach James O'Kane.
Out of that meet, Sarah Doll qualified to represent the Kootenay region at the B.C. High School Provincials in Langley at the end of the month.
While it's been a busy time for the club, O'Kane says his athletes are taking a bit of a break before getting back into more competitions.
"Now we're taking somewhat of a competition layoff for a few weeks, because we've got some benchmarks and we know what we want to work on to come out strong for our next competition," he said.
Next up will be a meet in Calgary in early June followed by another competition in the Okanagan at the end the month.
July will feature the provincial club championships and the B.C. Summer Games.
“The ultimate goal is the athletes have to hit a certain performance to make the Canadian Youth Legion Nationals, which is in Langley in August,” said O’Kane.
“So that’s what we’re working on, to try and make a few athletes make that standard, then they can go and compete against Canada’s best, so that’s what we’re working towards.”
And if anyone thinks that goal is out of reach for small town athletes, think again.
“We got our work cut out for us, but we’ve got some good athletes,” O’Kane said. “Whether you’re from the Coast, or Cranbrook or Calgary, it doesn’t matter—there’s good athletes, it’s just a matter of training them and getting the work they need to succeed, so as a coach, that’s my job to help them out there and give them the best chance for success on the track.”
EKTFC athletes are coached by O’Kane and Jennifer Doll. If anyone is interested in joining the club or requires more information, O’Kane can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.