Inspiration to keep training as a track and field athlete is what Penticton athlete Lucas Hooper brings back with him after competing at the first Nike High School Grand Prix Track and Field Invitational in Toronto.
“A drive to keep going really,” said Hooper, who won both the boys 400 metre and 200m events. “It gave me a feeling of accomplishment and you get to see what a national event would be like. It is a little insight to what the future might hold.”
Hooper along with fellow Pen High athletes Layne Richardson and Kyle Hooper, represented the Penticton Pounders Running Club at the meet, held May 11 to 13.
Lucas set a personal best with 51.75 in the 400m and 23.71 in the 200m. But that wasn’t the only highlight for the athlete. The group went on a tour of CN Tower, the city and the University of Toronto. A question and answer session was held with NHLer and Olympian Jason Spezza and a CFL trainer available to the athletes.
Nike also shut down their store so the athletes could shop with a discount and set up a locker room at the meet venue that had lockers with each of the athletes’ name on it and a swag bag including everything from spikes, shoes to a tracksuit and more.
“They treated us like professional athletes and we came home with a whole bag of new training gear,” said Lucas.
Penticton Pounders member Geoff Waterman helped coach the trio, who all finished top 10 in their events.
Waterman said their return generated quite the buzz around school.
“All the track kids were coming up to me and saying they want to go next year. I think that is the whole idea behind this, it’s going to build some momentum for Track and Field Canada. It’s a great opportunity for the kids and now provincials isn’t the only thing they can work towards,” said Waterman.
Waterman said the event ran like clockwork, had an international feel to it and the trio from Penticton, handled themselves well, proving they are “really great student athletes.”
“It was really great and showed the kids that hard work pays off and helped them realize what they need to do to get to that next level. Thanks to Nike for the event and to Cobb’s Bread for helping us fundraise to get there,” said Waterman.
The Penticton track and field athletes now will work towards club provincials this June in Coquitlam.