Building on a season of successes, Brooks Secondary School track team is heading to the BC High School Track and Field Championships May 30 to June 1 in Kelowna. At the qualifying meet, the 2019 Track and Field Island Championships, held last week in Victoria, Brooks placed third overall with 21 competitors qualifying. The athletes are coached by Connie Polman Tuin, Scott Glaspey, Dean Thorsell and Graham Cocksedge.
“Overall the numbers were just incredible,” said Glaspey. “Out of 22 athletes we had 24 personal bests. [Our team] ran roughly 50 events and half of them were personal bests, which was just amazing.”
Taking into account the small size of the team representing Brooks, reaching third place overall is a major accomplishment.
“We got 14 first places in that meet,” said Glaspey. “And the school that won it, Oak Bay [High School] had 15 first places. We have about half the number of competitors, so our team did really well.”
Going to the provincials represents a new level. Some 2,400 athletes from 330 high school teams will converge on Kelowna’s Apple Bowl Stadium for the three-day event. The team from Brooks will comprise of less than one per cent of the competitors.
Polman Tuin said she hopes each athlete can turn in their best showing to date.
“We would love to see everybody have personal best performances,” she said.
Glaspey is optimistic the team will achieve even more.
“I think we’re going to bring home anywhere between three and six medals,” he said. “We have a couple people who could be multiple medalists. What I’m hoping for is just nice surprises like last year.”
Aiding in the team’s training has been a timing device called Freelap that uses magnetic signals to more accurately track runner’s times.
“It’s a really easy way to measure speed,” said Polman Tuin. “A stopwatch is always wrong because it’s always a little bit slow. This is very accurate and every time they run we can tell if they’re improving or not.”
The device was made possible by a donation from Kiwanis Club of Powell River and the Brooks parent advisory committee.
“It has made a big difference in their speeds since we started using it,” she added.
Over the past few years, the track and field program has been revitalized, said Glaspey.
“It is building,” he said. “If we had one more coach we’d be crushing [the competition] like bugs and if we get 10 more kids who were committed we would be scary because then we'd get relay teams. Right now we can barely field a relay team; if someone gets sick, we’re out.”
However, the immediate focus is on the upcoming Kelowna meet.
“We have a five-day trip coming up,” said Glaspey, “and we’re going to make the most of it.”