Four Grade 11 student-athletes from Beiseker put their small school’s track and field program on the map at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) provincial championships in Medicine Hat June 3 and 4.
Beiseker Community School’s Ethan Meyer, Nolan Bell, Zach Harnack, and Colten Spackman competed in the Grade 11 men’s 4x100-metre (m) relay event, just barely missing out on the event’s final heat with a preliminary heat time of 48.16 seconds.
According to Shane Hansen, Beiseker Community School’s athletics coordinator and track coach, this year marked the first time the village's K-12 school sent a relay team to the provincial track championships. While Beiseker has sent high-school athletes to the ASAA meet before, Hansen said the school usually sends throws or jump specialists.
“To break into the upper echelons of running is really hard to do, especially when we’re competing against bigger schools [at divisionals] like Bert Church and Cochrane,” he said.
Beiseker's fast foursome had qualified for the Medicine Hat meet after winning the 4x100-m relay at both the Rocky View Schools divisional meet and the subsequent South Central Zones meet, according to Hansen.
Even though finishing ninth at provincials was a major accomplishment, their coach noted the performance was actually a slight disappointment for the four boys, who had posted faster times earlier this season.
“They didn’t have their best performance at provincials – they had a bad exchange, which placed them in ninth position, just missing the qualifying eighth spot,” Hansen said. “Looking at the result times from Saturday, they probably – barring any unforeseen thing – would have finished in the top four, for sure.
“It was a little disappointing for them, but as we’d talked about before, those things happen in track,” he added. “You can have a mental mistake or a breakdown and it’s a matter of a hundredths of a second, being knocked out of the placing.”
Hansen said all four members of the relay team compete in other sports in addition to track, and were able to use their natural athleticism to their advantage.
“All four of them play hockey, basketball, volleyball, etc., so they’re not just [committed] to one event,” he said, adding the four will hopefully continue to run relay next year, in their final year of high school.
One of the relay team members – Ethan Meyer – also competed in the Grade 11 men’s high-jump, triple jump, and 1500-m race at provincials. He placed 15th in the high jump with a height of 1.65 m and sixth in the triple jump with a distance of 12.02 m.
A personal highlight for Meyer was the 17-year-old's fourth-place finish in the 1500-m, running his four loops around the track in 4:27.08.
A hockey player in the winter with the Beiseker Blazers and a baseball player in the summer, Meyer – who lives in Irricana – said he enjoys the middle-distance running events in track and field the most.
Meyer said running on the school's first relay team to compete at provincials was special.
“I think it really shows a small school like us still has the capability to do well if you want it badly enough,” he said.
He added what made him, Bell, Harnack, and Spackman a strong relay team was their chemistry, as the four have known each other for a long time and competed together in different sports.
“We really have a connection together because we've been playing sports since we were in grade school together,” Meyer said. “I also feel we're all natural athletes, so it really helps our drive to get to the next level in sports.”
While they ran a little slower in Medicine Hat than they’re capable of, Hansen said it’s an impressive feat for Beiseker Community School’s relay team to have gone head-to-head and held their own against some of the best high-school relay teams in Alberta.
“They finished ninth in the province, which is huge,” he said. “It’s just good recognition, not only for our sports program here, but for our school in general.”