Carlton Comprehensive and St. Mary high school runners go head-to-head in last year's Prince Albert city track meet at Prime Ministers Park. Herald file photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Prince Albert high school track and field athletes will kick off the outdoor season at the North Central District Athletic Association city meet May 21-22.
High schools from across the city and surrounding areas will converge on Prime Ministers Park next week for the meet, which will have athletes competing in various events in midget, junior and senior age categories.
According to their team coaches, Prince Albertâs largest high schools; St. Mary and Carlton Comprehensive, both look promising heading into the event, each with a strong contingent of rookie and returning competitors.
âWe didnât have a Grade 12 on our team last year so all our winners have returned,â said Carlton track coach Patricia Taylor. âIt looks like we have a really strong group of Grade Nines that have come up so I am really looking forward to seeing how they fare.â
The top three finishers from each event will move on to district championships and from there, winners will head to provincial finals in Moose Jaw June 8-9.
St. Mary track coach Kelly Prins said that next weekâs city meet serves as a good precursor to districtâs held in Prince Albert the following week before heading to provincials.
âIt lets the kids know where they are at,â Prins said of cityâs. âIt gets a competition under their belt and gives them a feel for what their strengths are.â
St. Mary dominated the event last year, taking home more than a dozen gold medals including a impressive performance by Amanda Lepage, who had four No. 1 finishes in a series of midget dash and long jump events.
Prins said it is unknown whether his star pupil Lepage will make her return to cityâs next week, as she is currently dealing with an odd structural issue in her ankle.
âWeâve been to all kinds of specialists,â Prins said of Lepageâs ailment. âWe donât know why itâs doing this. Sheâs a kid that would go on to compete nationally but we donât know if sheâll be ready for provincials.â
While Carlton has managed to avoid losing competitors to graduation, St. Mary is in a different boat, losing upwards of nine senior athletes from last year.
âItâs definitely a rebuilding year for us,â Prins said. âOur team last year was very strong and a lot of our top kids I have been working with for a number of years have graduated.â
Despite the loss of some key athletes, including current University of Calgary stalwart Katelyn Lehner, Prins added that the teamâs future is bright as the roster is filled with a strong group of up and comers who are âlooking good.â
âOut of the young ones, weâve got a few kids who I believe could be gold medallists provincially,â he said.
One of the young guns Prins mentioned was Nayan Chand, a multi-sport athlete who looks promising in both sprinting and the groupâs âbread and butter,â jumping event.
On the Carlton side, Taylor mentioned names like Graham and Matt Meyer who look strong in the throwing category.
âOur boysâ throwing events are really strong,â Taylor said. âOur distance team is very strong, in my mind they are medal contenders. Weâve got some outstanding jumpers as well.â
More than 900 athletes from 16 schools are expected to take part in next weekâs event, which for Prinsâ athletes, will finally kick off the outdoor season.
After practising indoors at the Alfred Jenkins Field House all year, Prins said his athletes are eager to get outside.
âWe had a slow start to the season with the weather,â he said. âBeing cooped up indoors, they are anxious to get outside and get things going.â