Medals aplenty for WSS track and field team

Small but strong squad impresses at zone championships

Whistler Secondary's tiny but talented track and field team has made great strides this season, having bounded to multiple medals at the recent Zone Championships.

After having fielded a three-man squad last year, the Whistler Secondary School (WSS) team has grown to feature 12 hard-charging athletes, who put together a series of strong performances in the North Shore and Zone Qualifying meets leading up to last Tuesday's (May 12) zone championships.

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WSS instructor Georgina Titus, who coached the team along with WSS teachers Kevin Titus and Dave Kunnas and community coaches Ted Battiston and Dori Faulkner, said the team's results were especially impressive since they get a later start on training than the less-snowbound schools in their zone, and they have fewer facilities, though the school's new long jump pit is a major asset.

We are at a disadvantage and yet we seem to do so well, Titus said.

Eight athletes from Class A WSS qualified for the zone championships at Burnaby's Swangard Stadium on May 12, and sprang into action against the best runners, jumpers and throwers that the larger AAA and AA schools had to offer.

Everybody just kind of stepped up, it was really neat to see, Titus said.

Harrison Shrimpton blasted to gold in the 100-metre sprint, winning with a time of 12.14 seconds, and he topped off that effort with silver-medal-winning performances in his 200-metre race and high jump events.

Adam and Cole Schmidt, new WSS students in Grade 9, picked up three medals each in their events. Adam won gold by leaping to 1.55 metres in his high jump event, while capturing silver in his 200-metre race and silver with Cole, Toshi Akama and Ralph Cravalho as the four-by-100 relay team.

Cole earned a gold medal by powering to a 5.20-metre leap in the long jump, while adding a bronze in his 100-metre race to the relay medal. Adam also finished fourth in his long jump event.

Reis Iaconetti Bush won a silver medal in his 800-metre race with his time of two minutes, 22.67 seconds, and Steven Dykhuizen won silver in the discus with his 29.63-metre throw to qualify for the provincial championships.

Grade 12 student Kirby Chew, the team's veteran returning member, finished sixth in the long jump with his 4.94-metre leap, and eighth in the 200-metre race. Chew's season contained several powerful performances and personal-best results, including his 5.28-metre mark in long jump, 11.93-second 100-metre sprint and 24.87-second 200-metre race.

Shrimpton's medal-winning ways earned him the ranking of third overall in the Junior Boys Aggregate Championship rankings, and Adam Schmidt finished fifth in the Juvenile Boys Aggregate Championship.

Titus said Shrimpton's silver in the 200-metre event was particularly impressive because he won the 100 hands down and clearly has the speed, but had to dig deep to attack the extra distance in his 200-metre races. Running only his second 200-metre race at the zone championships, Shrimpton finished in the silver-medal spot by just three-hundredths of a second.

Titus said she was also impressed to see Cole Schmidt jump 5.2 metres for his gold medal.

That was a big leap, because his previous best was 4.93 (metres), Titus said.

Chew said he felt he improved quite a bit over the season, jumping more than five metres, with help from the new long jump pit, and he enjoyed having more people on the team this season.

We have way more people this year, so it's definitely better, he said.

Adam Schmidt said he was particularly excited to finish first in his high jump event at the zone championships, because he was nervous in the big stadium and felt the competition would be fierce.

It was really great (to win) because I thought they were jumping much higher than we jump, he said.

Cole Schmidt said he felt the Whistler team did exceptionally well at the season's meets, and he predicts more good things for the future.

The Whistler team is going to grow and it's going to get better, for sure, he said.

The team's only girls, Grade 8 students Elie Taillefer, Danielle McCaffrey and Danielle Mawdsley, stood out as competitors in their 100-metre sprint and high jump events. Birken Metza performed well in his first competitions in the 100-metre, 200-metre and long jump events.

Most of the eight athletes who competed at the zone championships will advance to the May 27 Vancouver and District Championships or the June 5 Provincial Championships.

Titus thanked the WSS Parent Advisory Council for buying the team's running spikes and uniforms, and the parents of the team members for driving the athletes to all the meets.

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