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Airdrie schools well-represented at provincial track championships

More than two dozen athletes from Airdrie high schools were in action June 7 and 8 at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) provincial track and field championships in Calgary.

W.H. Croxford and George McDougall were the top-represented schools from Airdrie, each with 11 athletes vying for medals. Bert Church had three students representing the Chargers, while St. Martin de Porres’ Jake Barrett and Airdrie Koinonia Christian School’s Oke Okumo were their respective schools’ sole competing athletes.

George McDougall was the top-performing local school, garnering five gold and four silver medals. The Mustangs finished the meet as the fifth-highest-scoring 3A school in the province, with a total of 173 points. The W.H. Croxford Cavaliers followed closely behind, as Alberta's sixth-best 3A school.

Ryan Haggarty, who has coached track and field at George McDougall for 18 years, said there are many reasons for the strength of the Mustangs’ track program.

“We’re starting to see a lot of kids come out [for track],” he said. “Having the track in Airdrie is really helping – it’s encouraging kids to come out.

“The club organizations are also doing a fantastic job with the kids who are passionate about it, and pushing them forward.”

One of George McDougall’s star performers was Grade-11 multi-event athlete Sienna MacDonald, who won gold in the intermediate women’s 80-metre (m) hurdles June 7 with a time of 11.38 seconds. The following day, she set an ASAA record in the open women’s pentathlon with 3,398 points to collect her second gold medal of the weekend.

“It was pretty good – I got a couple of personal bests,” said MacDonald, who took up competitive club track for the Calgary Warriors just last year. “I was just so determined to beat everyone. My goal was to do better than I have before, so going into it, I was pushing myself a lot.”

Jose Meredith won three gold medals for the Mustangs in the para-athletics category, setting ASAA records in the women’s 100-m and 200-m open intellectual races, and winning the open intellectual shot put. Another George McDougall para-athlete, Nayda Crawford, was a silver medalist in all three of those events.

Rounding off the podium placements for George McDougall was Jalen Greenidge, who picked up silver in the senior men’s long jump with a distance of 6.55 m.

“The athletes competed hard through some very challenging conditions,” Haggarty said. “We had sideways rain, snow, sleet, so it was very difficult, and they managed to put out some very good scores.”

Two of W.H. Croxford’s top performers were Sara Zinck, who won silver in the open women’s 300-m hurdles with a time of 46.79 seconds, and Sam Rajah, who ran around the track in 1:02.9 to take home bronze in the senior women’s 400-m.

Despite only fielding three athletes – Princess Roberts, Jinaye Shomachuk and Jocelyn Pearce – Bert Church punched above its weight to finish 15th among 3A schools. Roberts and Shomachuk each collected two gold medals and Pearce secured ninth in the intermediate women’s 1500-m run.

Roberts, who also won gold last year as a Grade-11 student in the intermediate women’s 200-m sprint, ensured she will finish her high school track career as the fastest sprinter in the province. She took home gold in the senior women’s 200-m final June 7, with a time of 24.90 seconds – 1.3 seconds faster than the second-place runner.

The next day, Roberts – who will attend the University of Calgary next year on a track scholarship – handily won the 100-m with a time of 12.18 seconds.

“I felt I did well, but we were also trying to get times for various Canada teams – North American, Central American and Caribbean U20s and Pan-Am U20s,” she said. “So, there was an undertone of, ‘Oh no, I didn’t get it,’ but I was mostly happy with everything.”

Shomachuk, a Grade-10 throws athlete, continued her stellar track and field career with gold-medal performances in the junior women’s discus and shot put events. Her meet got off to the perfect start June 7, when she set the ASAA record for the women’s three-kilogram shot put with a distance of 13.22 m on her final throw.

The Bert Church student set yet another provincial record the following day in the junior women’s discus. She obliterated the competition with a throw of 40.30 m – nearly nine metres farther than the second-place competitor.

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