Heading into the final meet of her high school track and field career, “Faith over fear” was Alex Siemens‘s mantra.
The W.J. Mouat Hawks’ Grade 12 runner has struggled at times with the weight of expectation – both from others, and from herself – since bursting onto the scene as a precocious Grade 9 star in 2009-10.
Siemens won the B.C. cross-country title and took bronze in the 3000 metres at track provincials that season, but hadn’t climbed the podium at a provincial high school meet since then, as she battled injuries and grappled with nerves.
The 17-year-old rectified that situation in a big way at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park on the weekend, winning a trio of medals at provincials – silver in the 3000m (10:01.11), bronze in the 1500m (4:38.71), and silver with the Mouat 4x400m relay team (4:05.43) which also featured Callum Pilgrim, Hailey Gibson and Amanda Thompson.
“I think before this season, I had so much going on mentally, just doubting myself,” Siemens said. “This year, before every race, I was like, ‘Faith over fear, faith over fear.’ I was trusting that God’s going to get me through it, and I was just going to run for his glory.
“I had a couple of hard seasons, and finally I’m feeling like Alex again. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I’m ending it off like this.”
Siemens was one of three Abbotsford athletes to earn an individual medal at senior track provincials.
Her Mouat relay teammate Thompson turned in a terrific showing in the javelin, registering a throw of 40.69 metres. The performance was all the more impressive considering Thompson is a basketball player first and foremost – she was MVP as Mouat won the junior girls provincial title in March – and is a relative newcomer to javelin.
“I’m athletic and I play baseball too, so my coach was like, ‘Hey, you should try throwing javelin,'” Thompson said. “I tried it last year for the first time, and this year I got a little bit more serious with it.”
Remarkably, all three girls javelin medallists – Teagan Rasche of Riverside Secondary, Brittni Wolczyk of Archbishop Carney, and Thompson – are in Grade 10.
“I’ve got a lot of competition,” noted Thompson, whose best throw was within three metres of gold medallist Rasche. “I just need to work on my technique some more. The other girls, they’ve been working on it way longer, so they have that advantage over me. But I’m going to start working harder at it.”
Manpreet Grewal of Abbotsford Senior finished third in the hammer throw, posting a best toss of 46.31 metres.
“I was a little off of my personal best, but I was pretty happy with it, because I made the podium for the first time,” said Grewal, who added a fifth-place finish in the discus (34.76m). “I’m still in Grade 11, so I’ve got one more year to go, and I’ll be trying for the gold next year.”
Grewal won a silver medal in the hammer at the Canadian Legion youth track and field championships last summer, and the 2013 edition of that event runs Aug. 9-11 at McLeod Athletic Park. Gaining familiarity with the venue was one of the silver linings of high school provincials.
“The competition environment was pretty cool, to see how it might be for Legions,” she noted.
Other top-five local finishers on the girls side at provincials included Callum Pilgrim of W.J. Mouat (fourth, 3000m), Monique Sever of Rick Hansen (fourth, triple jump), Catherine Taekema of Abbotsford Christian (fourth, pole vault), MEI’s Hannah Kornelsen (fourth, 1500m race walk), Abby Christian’s Amber Piers (fourth, 400m hurdles), Aly Cheese of Abbotsford Christian (fifth, high jump), and the Abby Christian 4x400m relay team (fourth).
On the boys side, top-five finishers included Curtis Ridder of Abby Christian (fourth, pole vault), Spencer Spenst of Mouat (fifth, pole vault), and Mouat’s 4x100m boys relay team (fourth).