The B.C. high school track and field championships underwent an extreme makeover this year, and Abbotsford athletes liked the new look.
This year’s meet at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park featured senior (Grade 11/12), junior (Grade 9/10) and Grade 8 age categories for the first time. In years past, the provincials was a senior competition with a Grade 8/9 invitational division.
Local athletes benefitted greatly from the change – of the 16 medals earned by Abbotsford natives, exactly half of them came in the new junior category.
“It’s good for the kids,” said W.J. Mouat track coach Cameron Smith. “They (Grade 9/10 athletes) used to be competing against seniors at provincials, and there was no success. But now, they’re winning medals, and it helps kids stay in track longer.”
Mouat’s Jayden Driver and Aaron Postma of Abbotsford Christian – both competing in the junior boys division – were the top local performers. They were the only Abby athletes to win gold medals, and to climb the podium in more than one individual event.
Driver (pictured left) was extremely impressive in the throwing disciplines – he won gold in the hammer (50.65 metres) and discus (39.77m), and added a bronze in the shot put (12.72m).
His accomplishments were phenomenal considering he’s a relative newcomer to the hammer and discus, the latter of which he only started competing in this season.
Driver, in fact, had been wearing a garden glove to throw the hammer this season because none of Mouat’s proper throwing gloves fit him. At provincials, officials told him his closed-finger glove was illegal, so Smith borrowed a Swiss Army knife and snipped the ends off the glove’s fingers.
Driver didn’t end up using the modified garden glove – an official loaned him some regulation handwear. But the change didn’t affect him adversely.
“It feels pretty awesome, definitely,” enthused Driver, who has also been training with the Valley Royals track and field club over the past few months.
“I came into it not really knowing what to expect. I won (medals) in everything at the Fraser Valleys, but I wasn’t sure how much more difficult it would be (at provincials), so I really wasn’t expecting anything.”
Postma was a high flyer – he won gold in the junior boys long jump (6.18m) and added a silver in the triple jump (12.69m) with a distance which would have been good for silver at the senior level as well. Both performances were personal bests – a tremendous performance on the pressure-packed provincial stage.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Postma marveled. “The long jump medal didn’t surprise me so much as the distance I jumped. Our (school) record on the wall was 6.02 metres, and I didn’t think I’d ever beat that because it’s crazy far. But I did.
“It felt like a really good jump, and when I got out of the pit, I said, ‘That looks pretty far.'”
Other junior medalists included Mouat’s Vikramjit Gondara, who took silver in the boys hammer (49.03m) after a terrific duel with teammate Driver. MEI’s Hannah Konrad claimed bronze in the junior girls 400m (59.12 seconds), and added fourth-place finishes in the 800m and high jump.
On the senior scene, Zach Choboter of St. John Brebeuf added a silver medal in the boys long jump (6.77m) to the decathlon title he won the previous week.
Manpreet Grewal, an elite thrower from Abby Senior, notched a silver medal in the senior girls discus (40.06m) and narrowly missed a second podium with a fourth-place finish in the hammer.
Monique Sever of Rick Hansen Secondary got onto the podium by the slimmest of margins in the senior girls high jump – her leap of 5.15m was just one centimetre farther than that of fourth-place finisher Sophie Pauls of Little Flower Academy. Sever also registered a fourth-place result in the triple jump.
Tim Bertness of Mennonite Education Institute, who was fourth in the senior boys decathlon last week, got onto the podium for bronze in the triple jump (12.25m).
Josh Adhemar of Mouat turned in a terrific performance in the senior boys 400m hurdles to nab bronze (57.38 seconds).
Jordan York of MEI earned bronze in the Grade 8 boys 400m (56.56 seconds).
A trio of relay teams also climbed the podium. Mouat’s 4x100m senior boys squad won silver (43.92 seconds), while MEI’s 4x400m girls squads fared very well – the Grade 8 crew won silver (4:31.54), while the junior girls took bronze (4:14.98).