A former member of the Airdrie Aces track and field club was named the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns’ Male Athlete of the Year for 2019-20.
“It’s just a very big honour – especially at a school that has the athletic history of U of L, with all the Olympians that have come through the program,” said Andreas Troschke, a hammer throw and weight throw specialist. “It’s definitely a big honour to have my name on the award next to theirs, so it felt great.”
While the Pronghorns’ annual student-athlete awards are usually dished out at a dinner and awards banquet, this year, the event had to be held digitally April 11, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- INTERACTIVE MAP: See the latest COVID-19 statistics across Canada by province/territory on our interactive map.
The unusual circumstances made for a slightly anti-climactic scenario, according to Troschke.
“My acceptance of [the award] was basically hitting refresh and seeing my photo pop up on the Pronghorns’ Instagram page, and then realizing I won,” Troschke said. “It definitely wasn’t the same effect as a proper awards banquet, but I appreciate they still found a way to hand the awards out.”
The 21-year-old business major capped off his third year of university track with medals at both the Canada West championships Feb. 21 and 22 and USPORTS national championships March 5 to 7.
He earned his first Canada West crown in the weight throw with a top distance of 17.47 metres (m), before bettering it by 0.19 m two weeks later to earn bronze at nationals.
With medals in four of his five meets, Troschke said his third season was the most consistent of his university track and field career.
“My first two years, I medalled at nationals but not at Canada West, which doesn’t really make sense, given there’s less competition in Canada West,” he said. “It was really up and down, but this year…I finally got that Canada West monkey off my back, so that was really nice.”
The former Aces thrower attributed his improved consistency to a growth in experience and confidence.
“I knew what I could do and what I needed to focus on each and every throw, and that calmed me down to the point where I could go out and be way more consistent,” he said.
Given the timing of the pandemic, Troschke said he felt fortunate he even had the chance to compete at nationals this year. Just a few days after the meet had concluded, all USPORTS competitions were cancelled.
“If nationals had been one week later, they wouldn’t have happened, so thank God they happened when they did,” he said. “When we were down there for nationals, our coach kept saying ‘Everything is going to be shut down soon, because coronavirus is coming.’ We all kind of rolled our eyes and thought he was being pessimistic.
“Then, there we are a week later, everything getting shut down and we were being told not to come to classes.”
While the pandemic means the outdoor track-and-field season will likely be called off, Troschke said he will continue to do whatever training he can. Though he’s mostly confined to his home, he said the Pronghorns athletes have been able to continue some of their training.
“Our throwing area is just in a field, so we’ve been able to throw a little bit,” he said. “But it definitely affected us. We weren’t able to train until our coach worked something out with Athletics Alberta, and we haven’t been able to lift at all, which is obviously a big part of our conditioning and strengthening.”
With regards to next year’s USPORTS season, Troschke, who is ranked second in Canada among U23 male athletes in the weight throw, said his objective is to win gold in the event at nationals – something he hasn’t achieved since his freshman campaign.
“I won it in my first year and then it was two years of bronzes in a row, so I’m looking to get back on top of the mountain, if you will, next year,” he said. “That’s the only goal in my mind now. I know I can do it, so I kind of want to jump forward in time to nationals next year, because I’m really confident and I’m ready to get that one back.”