ALMAGUIN – On Aug. 17 to 19 three Almaguin Track Club athletes competed at the Youth National Track and Field Championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Bailey Gravelle, Megan Hitchcock and Nathan Jeffery, along with coach Chris Bell made the trip after all three athletes ran national standard times at the Provincial Championship held a month earlier in Oshawa. The event featured the top athletes from across the country both from provincial teams and individual entrants. “This is the highest stage you can get to as an athlete at the youth level and the work they put into getting there is incredible” says Bell.
Nathan Jeffery competed in the U16 boys 1,500 metre steeplechase and finished in an impressive fourth position, just missing out on a medal. Megan Hitchcock ran in the 400 metres and 300m hurdles as an U18 finishing in 29th and 18th place respectively. Bailey Gravelle also competed in the 300m hurdles as an U18 winning his heat and finishing in 7th place overall. “Our goal coming in was to try and finish in the top 20 and we all did that. It’s a great feeling knowing that we can compete with the best runners in the country,” says Gravelle.
Megan Hitchcock explains their training schedule leading up to the meet. “We started training in November one night a week and when the snow melted off in March we trained every day after school and lifted weights twice a week in the evenings until the end of June. Through July and August we practised twice a week in Huntsville with our coach at Conroy Park and ran on our own four to five days a week around town and at Almaguin high school.” Hitchcock says she now understands what this kind of training can do for an athletes performance. “When I was in Grade 9 I only ran track because it was something to do and I never really did that well. I never would have thought that only two years later I would be running at this level.”
Throughout the track season these athletes have been the nucleus of both the club and the high school team, collectively breaking five school records in the process. Bell states, “Our younger team members really look up to these three because of their hard work and determination. If you work this hard at something you are going to be successful, that’s what I want them to understand.”
With the travel costs associated to an event of this calibre participation would not have been possible without the help of the South River Legion, Royal Bank of Sundridge, and the Blue Roof and its patrons. The club will take the next few months off and resume training for the next season in November.