Smith & Mason Win at Jerome Track Classic

Jessica Smith won the women’s invitational 800-meters and Mike Mason placed first in the men’s high jump Monday evening (June 8) at the Harry Jerome Track and Field Classic that took place at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.

It was a crucial victory for Smith as her winning time gave the Valley Royal runner a Canadian leading time for the distance and put her in good position to be selected to the team that will compete at this summer’s Pan American Games to be held in Toronto.

With just 50 meters to go in the race, Smith was in third but well positioned on the outside of the two leaders and ready to strike.  Smith then made her move edging past Toronto’s Melisa Bishop and then, with 5 meters left, she picked off Trinity ‘Western’s Fiona Benson.    At the finish only 27/100th of a second separated the top three finishers with Smith was clocking in 2:01.40, Benson second (2:01.48) and Bishop third (2:01.67).  No doubt it was one of the most exciting races of the evening and had the stadium crowd on their feet to witness the drive to the tape.

Smith’s victory was crucial as it put her into prime position for selection to the Canadian team that will take part in next month’s Pan American Games to be held in Toronto.   Only two runners from each participating country will be selected for a particular event and Canadian selections will be made on the basis of the top two times in the country come next Sunday.  So if things stand as they are, come Sunday Smith will be one of Canada’s two selections for the women’s 800-meters.

Mike Mason had to participate in a jump off before being declared the winner of the men’s high jump.   But after the jump off was concluded Mason was declared the winner with a 2.21 meter performance and Dante Nall of the United States in second (2,20m).   Third place was taken by former Valley Royal Django Lovett, just returned from University in the United States, with a leap of 2.10 meters.

The high jump venue at Swangard is poorly positioned for high jumping.  Stuck away in a corner of the stadium, the jumpers have a concrete wall in the background that seems to make the high bar look a lot higher then it actually is.  An optical illusion for sure but one that is not kind for those seeking outstanding high jump performances.

With selections to the Pan American Games taking place in less then a week’s time it looks like the Valley Royals could have two athletes named to the Canadian team.

The Will to Succeed at BC HS Champs

There were a number of good performances turned in by Valley Royal athletes at the BC High School Track and Field Championships that took place on three days late last week.

But the standout performances came from an elite group of athletes that utilized their talent, a dedicated work ethic and a will to win that made them standouts.

Vikramjit Gondara once again led the way for the Royals by winning gold medals in both the junior boys discus (42.82m) and hammer (51.67m) both performances that most likely will stand as BC high school meet records.   Behind the technical expertise of throws coach Harold Willers, Gondara is a 16 year old grade 10 athlete, is undoubtedly a standout talent, and wants to win.  Gondara enters every competition with the desire to excel and he puts forth the effort and dedication that makes that happen.   In Willers’ words, Gondara is the type of individual that makes coaching worthwhile.   Although he was happy with his wins, Gondara felt that he was a little shy of what he is capable of and hopes to improve particularly on his hammer as the season progresses.

Tasha Willing, another of Willers protégés, won gold and silver medals in the senior girls division.  Willing secured a gold medal in her favorite event, the shot put (11.48m) and won a bronze medal by tossing the discus 36.52m.  Willing finished out the meet with a fourth place in the hammer (47.73m).

If the Royals had an award for an inspirational effort during the meet it would undoubtedly go to Josh Adhemar.  Competing in the final of the 400-meter hurdles, Adhemar encountered more problems then usual with his pacing between hurdles and coming up to the last barrier he was two meters behind Carter Higgins of Dover Bay.  But Adhemar put forth a drive to the tape that won him the gold medal (57.25) to Higgins 57.50.

Adhemar’s success was in part due to a rather peculiar coaching regime.  Part of the distance group, Adhemar seemed to thrive on the volume of work designed by Sue Northey and the technical knowledge of former hurdle specialist Gerry Swan.  In the end the diligence of a good athlete who followed the advice of his coaches resulted in success for an athlete who can perform under pressure.  

But it was Adhemar’s performance in the 4×400 meter relay that demonstrated his determination to succeed.  Receiving the baton in fifth place the Mouat runner made a drive over the last 100 meters that lifted his team into third place by recording a personal best of 50.08 for his 400-meter anchor leg.

Other medal performances by club athletes included Rowan Hamilton with a 2nd in the junior boys hammer (47.99m), Monique Sever (3rd triple jump-11.25m), Devon Kular (2nd Jr. PV 3.00m), and Ben Ingvaldson (2nd Sr. Hammer 51.13m).