The 2019 track-and-field season is shaping up to be a busy one for the Airdrie Aces athletics club, with meets taking place each weekend throughout the spring and summer.
“There’s a lot to come,” said Jodie Matsuba-Szucs, Aces president and middle-distance coach. “We have five or six meets to choose from, and of course, you have to get some training in, too. Each athlete, with their coaches, is deciding which meets to attend to keep them sharp and getting better, but not burning them out.”
The Aces’ most recent competition was the CALTAF Classic, held June 14 to 16 at the Foothills Athletic Park in Calgary.
According to Matsuba-Szucs, the CALTAF Classic is particularly important. As a trial meet for Team Alberta, it determines who will represent the province at the Tri-Provincial Western Canadian Championships and the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships.
“The team is only 37 [athletes] for U16 and U18…for nationals, and they take a team of 100, roughly, for Team Alberta for the Western Canadian Championships,” she said. “A lot of our kids make it onto the Tri-Prov team, but not as many make it onto the Legion team because the standard is stiff.”
With the opportunity to represent their province on the line, Airdrie’s athletes fared admirably at the CALTAF Classic, with many achieving personal bests (PB), according to Matsuba-Szucs.
U16 sprinter Caelan Thain enjoyed three PBs in the 300-metre (m) and 200-m sprints, as well as the long jump.
Matsuba-Szucs said she was excited to see Thain perform so well, considering he recently spent three months recuperating from an injury.
“He was having some issues with his Achilles area, I believe it was, so he took some time off, came back and he’s doing well,” she said. “He decided he’s going to train for the next month, but not compete.”
Another U16 athlete, Ryan Cooper, made the finals for both the 100-m and 200-m sprints.
On the U16 girls’ side, Hunter Aman and Rebecca Agoston both set PBs in the 100-m sprint. U18 athletes Jasmine Szucs and Sarah Cole also competed in the sprints, but fell just short of PBs.
In the throws, Jinaye Shomachuk handily won the hammer throw and discus events.
Matsuba-Szucs said the club is still waiting to hear which of its athletes will qualify for Team Alberta for the Tri-Provincial Western Canadian Championships and the national championships.
But even if an athlete does not make it onto Team Alberta, Matsuba-Szucs said, some can still qualify for the big meets as an open athlete.
“Most of the kids who declare for nationals but don’t make it onto Team Alberta will still go,” she said. “You can still make the open standard, as it’s a little easier than the province standard.”
The next big meet for Aces’ athletes will be the Foote Field Classic, held in Edmonton June 28 to 30. But, Matsuba-Szucs said, some Aces will compete instead at the Jack Brow Invitational in Kelowna, B.C., that same weekend.
Another big meet will be the Sherwood Park Classic July 19 to 21, which acts as the provincial championships for U16 and U18 athletes.
Following provincials, the Tri-Provincial Western Canadian Championships will be held July 12 to 14 in Regina, Sask. The 2019 season will then culminate with the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships Aug. 9 to 11 in Sydney, N.S.