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 Albert‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt have a Grade 12 on our team last year so all our winners have returned,‚ÄĚ said Carlton track coach Patricia Taylor. ‚ÄúIt 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.‚ÄĚ
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 week‚Äôs city meet serves as a good precursor to district‚Äôs held in Prince Albert the following week before heading to provincials.
‚ÄúIt lets the kids know where they are at,‚ÄĚ Prins said of city‚Äôs. ‚ÄúIt gets a competition under their belt and gives them a feel for what their strengths are.‚ÄĚ
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 city‚Äôs next week, as she is currently dealing with an odd structural issue in her ankle.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been to all kinds of specialists,‚ÄĚ Prins said of Lepage‚Äôs ailment. ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt know why it‚Äôs doing this. She‚Äôs a kid that would go on to compete nationally but we don‚Äôt know if she‚Äôll be ready for provincials.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs definitely a rebuilding year for us,‚ÄĚ Prins said. ‚ÄúOur 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.‚ÄĚ
Despite the loss of some key athletes, including current University of Calgary stalwart Katelyn Lehner, Prins added that the team‚Äôs future is bright as the roster is filled with a strong group of up and comers who are ‚Äúlooking good.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúOut of the young ones, we‚Äôve got a few kids who I believe could be gold medallists provincially,‚ÄĚ he said.
One of the young guns Prins mentioned was Nayan Chand, a multi-sport athlete who looks promising in both sprinting and the group‚Äôs ‚Äúbread and butter,‚ÄĚ jumping event.
On the Carlton side, Taylor mentioned names like Graham and Matt Meyer who look strong in the throwing category.
‚ÄúOur boys‚Äô throwing events are really strong,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúOur distance team is very strong, in my mind they are medal contenders. We‚Äôve got some outstanding jumpers as well.‚ÄĚ
More than 900 athletes from 16 schools are expected to take part in next week‚Äôs event, which for Prins‚Äô 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.
‚ÄúWe had a slow start to the season with the weather,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBeing cooped up indoors, they are anxious to get outside and get things going.‚ÄĚ