The St. Albert Mustangs Track and Field Club is sending a herd of athletes to the Tri-Provincial track meet later this month — 10 youth have qualified to represent Team Alberta.
"Since I’ve been coaching I haven’t seen such a huge number of our athletes making the team," Mustangs coach Joanna Cooper said before a July 7 club practice at Fowler track.
"I’m just really thrilled that they’re getting this opportunity and they’re getting to compete for Alberta. It’s a huge deal.”
This year's Tri-Provincial competition will be held July 22-24 in Sherwood Park. Athletes from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will compete against each other.
Team Alberta's roster of 96 athletes will compete in various track and field events, including endurance running, relay running, throwing, jumping, and combined events.
From the St. Albert Mustangs, Sarah Friesen and Silas Kerbes will compete in the jumping events. Ella Diener, Sydney Kube, Gabrielle Kube, Justin Schultz, and Christian Frances will compete in throwing events such as discus and hammer throw. Karissa DeSousa and Alexandra Watson will compete in endurance and relay running events, and Gabby Paterson will compete in the pentathlon as well as a relay event.
"It’s a big opportunity for these kids and we’re just super proud of all of them," Cooper said.
Fifteen-year-old twins Sydney and Gabrielle Kube said they were both excited to make Team Alberta.
“It’s a really cool sport — really different," Gabrielle said of her event, the hammer throw. "A lot of people don’t know that I do hammer throw, or if they do, they have no clue what it is.
"It’s really fun to see their faces when I show them what I do,” she said.
Sydney, who began hammer throwing before her sister did, said her goal for the Tri-Provincial meet is to hit 45 metres for a hammer throw.
“I’m small and not your typical hammer thrower but I feel like anybody [of] any size or weight can do it,” Sydney said.
“Most people think [hammer throw ability] comes from your arms but it’s a lot of leg muscles and then you really need a strong core because as the weight gets heavier, your strong core will help you through the turns.”
While Paterson and Watson made Team Alberta for the Tri-Provincial track meet, both athletes also qualified for the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships, which will take place in August in Sherbrooke, Que.
To qualify for the Legion track meet, Cooper said the athletes had to win their event at the Foote Field Open — the qualifying meet.
Cooper said the athletes also had to finish their events in certain times or make certain marks in jumping or throwing events.
For Paterson, winning her event — the pentathlon — at the Foote Field Open was no problem as she managed to break the previous provincial record. For the pentathlon, Paterson competes in long jump, high jump, shot put, an 80-metre hurdle race, and an 800-metre race, all in the same day.
Watson, meanwhile, qualified for the 800- and 1200-metre runs, as well as a relay event.
“I didn’t even know I was doing relay," 14-year-old Watson said.
"I’m a little nervous because it’s a big race but I’m excited."
Watson said she started doing track and field when she was nine, and a friend of hers invited her to try it.
“I just like running and I like all the people that I train with and it’s just really fun," she said.
For the upcoming track meets, Watson said her main goal is to set a new personal record.
“I just want to beat 2:18 because my personal best is 2:19 in the 800-metre [run]."