Whether it was spectators in the bleachers or athletes on the track, it was a record-setting day for Ocean Athletics earlier this month when the South Surrey track-and-field club hosted B.C. Junior Development Track and Field Championships.
For starters, more than 460 young athletes laced up and competed at the event – which was held at South Surrey Athletic Park July 19-21 – which Ocean Athletics head coach Maureen de St. Croix said was “the biggest JD championship in quite some time.”
Usually, the provincial meet features just over 400 competitors, she said.
It wasn’t just strength in numbers, either, explained de St. Croix – more than a few Ocean athletes turned in not just personal-best performances, but ones good enough to smash some provincial age-group records.
“There were some all-time B.C. top performances, so that was really exciting to see,” she said.
The event features many of B.C.’s top nine- to 13-year-old athletes, who compete in a wide variety of events, including sprints and middle-distance races, hurdles, throwing events such as hammer throw, discus and shot put and javelin, as well as pole vault and three jumping competitions: long, triple and high.
Among the record-breakers was 2006-born Connor Nicol, who won gold with relative ease in both the boys 1,200-m and 2,000-m races. Both set new provincial records among 2006-born runners.
In the 2,000, he finished 13 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher; fellow Ocean Athletics runners Brendan O’Brien and James Hodgson were third and fourth, respectively. Nicol and O’Briend also finished second and third in the 800-m.
The 1,200-m race was a South Surrey sweep, with Nicol, Hodgson and O’Brien finishes first through third. Nicol crossed the finish line all alone, in a time of five minutes, 53.61 seconds – more than 30 seconds ahead of the chase group.
“In the 1,200, he just smoked it. He took a big chunk off (the old record),” de St. Croix said. “It was really exciting.”
In the same two events – but in the 2006-born girls competition – another Ocean Athletics athlete duplicated Nicol’s record-setting feat, as Maella Hodgson won gold in both distance races, while also adding a gold medal in javelin, with a winning toss of 26.62 m, and silver in the 800-m.
Elsewhere in the 2006 age division, Ocean Athletics’ Caidyn Maver set a B.C. boys record in the high jump, clearing the bar at 1.61 m, while fellow high jumper Griffen Smith, competing in the 2008 boys age bracket, also had a record day, with a best mark of 1.43 m.
Other Ocean Athletics winners included Abigail Martin, who won gold in the 2008 girls 60-m and bronze in both the 100- and 200-m; Bahar Azadeh, bronze in 2010 girls 1,000-m; Madeleine Turner, bronze in 2007 girls 80-m hurdles; Amrita Sidhu, silver in 2006 girls 80-m hurdles; Shenuli Silva, silver in 2009 girls 800-m racewalk and bronze in javelin; Raine Sawatzky and Jemma Hamilton, who were first and third, respectively in the 2010 girls high jump; Ayva Kennedy, who won gold in 2008 girls high jump; Gurleen Mander, gold in 2007 girls discus and hammer throw, and silver in shotput; Kailey McKay, third in 2007 girls discus; Mia Sage, gold in 2006 girls hammer; and Meagan McKay and Eve Antscherl, gold and bronze, respectively, in 2007 girls javelin.
In boys competitions, other winners were: Ocean’s David Diza, silver in 2006 boys 100- and 300-m, and bronze in 200; Dylan Dumont, gold in 2010 boys 100- and 600-m; Graham Wendel, silver in 2009 boys 600-m and long jump; Samuel Bullock, silver in 2007 boys high jump and bronze in 80-m hurdles; Arjan Gillan, gold in 2006 boys pole vault as well as triple jump, and silver in shot put and javelin; and Oscar Antscherl – who de St. Croix said was competing after suffering a broken arm just three weeks earlier – won silver in 2008 boys javelin.
“All our younger athletes did really well,” de St. Croix said.
Though still in the preliminary stages, de St. Croix said that Ocean Athletics is beginning to plan fundraising efforts in an attempt to raise money to resurface the track at South Surrey Athletic Park.
“We talked with tons of people at the track (durin the junior development meet), and everyone is in favour of it,” she said.
Cost of such an endeavour, de St. Croix told Peace Arch News, is about $400,000.
The South Surrey track was built in 2005 at a cost of $2.5 million, and was built in conjunction with a handful of other athletic-park improvements, which at the time included new light standards at the baseball diamonds, the construction of the Sout Surrey Recreation Centre and the conversion of a grass soccer field to turf.