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.