Athletes excited for track challenge

Trio of Penticton athletes prepare to compete in first Nike High School Grand Prix Track and Field Invitational in Toronto

Penticton’s Layne Richardson

Penticton’s Layne Richardson

Two hundred and fifty Canadian track and field athletes will push their limits during the first Nike High School Grand Prix Track and Field Invitational in Toronto.

Penticton’s Layne Richardson, Kyle Hooper and brother Lucas will be among that group.

The Pen High Secondary students, representing the Penticton Pounders Running Club, are excited to put their skills on display at Varsity Stadium May 11 to 13.

Their opportunity came when community coach Geoff Waterman submitted a form in December and received an email confirming their acceptance on Jan. 31. During provincial competition, Kyle placed 16th in the high jump as a Grade 9 student competing against Grade 12s, while Lucas was 10th in the 400-metre sprint. It was the first big event for the Grade 10 student at the time. Richardson placed seventh in the 400-m hurdles and 12th in the 800-m hurdles. Selection is based on a student being part of a team selected by their provincial high school athletic association. Participating provincial associations are responsible for selecting one male and female team from their region. The three Penticton athletes will be joined by one athlete from Vancouver.

“It’s a great opportunity to see a high level competition,” said Waterman.

Lucas said he is excited, especially to meet other athletes. Richardson sees this as a chance to be seen by universities.

“There will be 250 kids as driven as us,” said Lucas.

Richardson and the Hoopers see improvement in their abilities and they push themselves to set new personal bests. The competition builds rivalries for them and they learn.

“It’s definitely a classy sport,” said Richardson.

All three will compete in four events. One of which is the 4×100 with their Vancouver teammate. The events are long jump, shot put, high jump as well as track events and hurdles.

The entry fee for each is $650 and covers all travel and expenses including round-trip airfare, three nights stay, transportation, meals, a guided sight-seeing tour of the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame and the Royal Canadian Museum. They also receive customized track gear. Waterman said they will be doing some fundraising events to help cover their costs.

The Nike High School Grand Prix Track and Field Invitational was created by Chris Reid, who has served as the meet director of the International Festival of Excellence, two Canadian championships and the Metro Track and Field Championships.