Six local athletes competed at the 2019 Track and Field Senior National Championships in Montreal, Que., from July 25 to 28.
Jalen Greenidge and Princess Roberts represented the University of Calgary Athletics Club, while Aiden Good, Michael Stewart, Parker Allen and Rachel Andres competed under the Airdrie Aces banner.
Racing at his first senior nationals, 17-year-old Good participated in his preferred event – the 800-metre (m). His first run saw him complete the two-lap race in 1:57.30, narrowly qualifying for the semi-finals in the men’s U18 age group.
Good’s semi-final run didn’t go quite as well, when his time of 1:59.02 put him in 18th place, outside the finals qualifying time.
“We think he could have pushed a little harder in his third quarter of the race, but he’ll know that for next time,” said Jodie Matsuba-Szucs, Aces president and middle distance coach.
“It was an experience-meet for him. We talked about sending him last year, but he wasn’t ready. We knew if he went this year that he’d make it to the semi-finals.”
As one of the youngest athletes in the 800-m, Matsuba-Szucs said Good’s showing was positive.
“He was running against guys three years older than him, but I knew he could hold his own against them,” she said.
Middle-distance runner Stewart, 19, also advanced to the semi-finals. He rounded the 400-m loop in 50.94 seconds to finish 11th in the qualifier, before finishing his competition with a 51.83-second race in the semi-final, placing 22nd.
According to Matsuba-Szucs, Stewart is relatively new to track and field, having only taken up the sport a year-and-a-half ago.
“For him to run as well as he did was awesome,” she said.
Greenidge, a long-jumper who graduated from George McDougall High School in June, started in terrific fashion with a 6.62-m (m) distance in the preliminaries.
The jump put him in first place and qualified him for the finals in the men’s U20 age group. However, his 6.4-m jump in the finals dropped the athlete to 10th place.
Roberts, a 17-year-old sprinter who graduated from Bert Church High School in June, raced to a sixth-place finish in the 100-m sprint and a fourth-place finish in the 200-m sprint for the women’s U20 age group.
Andres, Aces throws coach, competed at her second senior nationals as a Canadian citizen. After winning gold in the senior women’s discus in 2018 – setting a provincial record in the process – the 32-year-old managed another podium finish this year, earning the silver medal with a top throw of 57.3 m. The distance was 1.5 m off first-place finisher - Agnes Esser, of Victoria, B.C.
“[Esser] was injured at the end of last year, so she didn’t throw the best last year,” Andres said. “Right now, she’s at the top of her game. She was scheduled to go to [the Pan American Games] in Peru, like I was, but then Team Canada didn’t send any discus throwers to Peru.”
One of Andres’ athletes, 18-year-old Allen, competed in the hammer throw for the men’s U20 age group and finished in sixth place with a distance of 49.82 m.
“He was pretty consistent with some of his best distances this season, so I was pretty happy with it,” Andres said. “He started the meet ranked sixth and finished in sixth, so he didn’t lose any placing. It went well, for his first national championship.”
According to Matsuba-Szucs, the focus for Aces athletes will now be the National Youth Track and Field Legion Nationals, Aug. 8 to 13 at Cape Breton University, N.S. The meet will feature the top U16-U18 track-and-field athletes in Canada.