Penticton Lakers track team earned three first place finishes at the Nike High School Grand Prix invitational meet in Toronto from May 9 to 12.
Lucas Hooper took top spot in the boys 200-metre finals and boys 400m finals.
“This was my first time winning gold and it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt,” said Lucas.
More than 280 athletes representing 12 provinces and territories competed in the Grand Prix, now in its second year. The event itself was touted as a chance for high school athletes to come together in competition but also a chance to socialize with other teens and attend educational panels.
“High School Grand Prix is about the opportunity to compete and hitting your personal best along the way. It’s also about getting to meet awesome people along the way,” said Lucas. “I would highly recommend doing an event like this for every sport because it increases friendship amongst the team and creates excitement for Canadian sports.”
His brother, Kyle Hooper, also found success at the meet finishing in first place in high jump (1.80m), eighth in the 100m dash and 10th in the 200m. He said not only was it a great experience on the track, but he also enjoyed the gear they got during the meet.
“The locker room experience, filled with custom gear and your name, made you feel like a professional and made the entire experience worth it whether you win or lose,” he said.
Penticton coach Geoff Waterman said the Grand Prix is a positive experience for the athletes and they will walk away with a ton of memories from all the friendships and experiences they had.
Last year, the Penticton team sent three athletes, and the buzz they created when they came home piqued the interest of other athletes. This year Penticton sent nine. Justin Schenk finished 22nd in the boys 200m and 15th in the 400m. John Croft placed 39th in the 400m, 35th in the 800m and 29th in the 1500m. Cameron Lynka took 12th in the 800m and 18th in the 1500m. Richard Xiang finished 10th in the 1500m and 16th in the long jump, while Jake Klan finished in 32nd in the long jump.
“With HSGP the team has grown. Some of the kids have experienced a personal best here, and as a coach that’s all you can ask for,” he said.
The athletes also toured around Toronto on a chartered sightseeing bus androde an elevator to the top of the CN Tower when they weren’t digging their spikes into the track at Varsity Stadium in the Canadian 10-event track and field competition.
“My favourite experience of the weekend was visiting the CN Tower,” said Kyle Walker. “At the meet I feel like the atmosphere and slight pressure helped contribute to my success in hitting a personal best in high jump. I could not be more grateful.”
Walker finished in 24th in the high jump with a personal best of 1.49m and finished in 34th place in the boys 400m race.