Lakers track team excited for invitational event

Pen High triples its representation for the Nike High School Grand Prix

Pen High will be represented by more athletes for its second trip to the Nike High School Grand Prix national track and field invitational in Toronto.

Last year the Lakers male team consisted of Lucas Hooper, Kyle Hooper and Layne Richardson. This year the number has tripled. They will be also be joined by the West Point Academy female team to represent B.C.

“It’s just going to be a really great experience,” said coach Geoff Waterman, as his athletes will compete May 9 to 12. “See what the competition is like and what that next level is to do competitions at the university level.”

Excitement grew among other Pen High students after Lucas Hooper, Kyle Hooper and Layne Richardson made last year’s trip. This year the Hooper brothers are joined by Kyle Walker, Richard Xiang, John Crofts, Justin Schenk, Robert Simmerling, Cam Lynka and Jake Klan.

Schenk said he’s excited and hopes he and his teammates perform well. Shank will be competing in the 400-metre and 800-m relay.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for high school students,” said Simmerling, who will be doing the 800-m and 1,500-m distances as well as 4×100-m. “It’s just a great chance to get scouted for university.”

Lucas remembers the experience being a lot of fun and is excited to get a second chance.

“We were worried that we weren’t going to be able to go but they picked Penticton for a second time,” he said. “We’re pretty happy. Met so many people from across the country.”

The goal for the group is to have fun and improve on their personal bests.

“You can’t control what anybody else does,” said Waterman.

Along with competing, the team will explore Toronto and enjoy social and cultural experiences.

As for their season, Lucas recently competed in the Battle of the Borders in Kamloops and won the 200-m and 400-m events.

“I ran well. The competition wasn’t the best,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that in Toronto.”

What Hooper gained in Kamloops is getting rid of the pre-season nerves. “I didn’t know how I was going to run.”

In Kelowna on April 30, the senior girls clocked in at 4:56 in the 4×400-m relay to take second, while the senior boys won the same event finishing in 3:48. Lucas Hooper was first in the 800-m relay, while his brother Kyle was  first in the high jump at 1.75-m. They will also be hosting a meet on May 7, which Waterman said is a zone event with Summerland. Valleys are on May 15, which qualifies teams for provincials the first weekend in June.