Track athletes represent Hope at B.C. championships

Blake Deschenes is Hope's first decathlon challenger since 2010

Grade 10 Hope Secondary School student Blake Deschenes placed sixth at the B.C. high school provincial championships in decathlon.

A small contingent of Hope Secondary School athletes attended the recent B.C. high school track and field championships — coming back with some encouraging results.

Coach Jason Fisher was unable to travel with the team, as he was in England for his best friend’s funeral, so the students had to rely on the training they had done under his supervision.

Blake Deschenes was Hope’s first challenger since 2010 in the decathlon. That event was held on May 24 and 25 at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium, separate from the rest of the provincials, which ran at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley. The switch to the valley facility was a break from the long tradition of having the provincials at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.

Grade 11 student Mina Kim competed in the hammer throw on May 31 and Fisher reported that she unfortunately faulted on all three throws.

“I understand it was a little wet that day,” Fisher said on Monday. “She threw out of bounds on her first throw, then she hit the ground before her release on the second throw. On the third try, she probably threw around 30 metres… but she stepped out at the front and was disqualified.”

Kim shows promise for next season, added the coach. “She improved in every single event she went in.”

Less-than-ideal footing may have hindered Travis Herrling’s last crack at the high jump, in his graduating year. Herrling had gone well over his head in jumping 180 cm at a club meet in Victoria earlier in the season but he maxed-out at 175 cm at the Langley meet.

Fisher said Simon Connell’s school record of 185 cm is safe for another year.

Grade 9 student Jeremiah Steberl entered the open pole vault event, competing against senior athletes. Hope secondary has the poles — but there’s no dedicated jumping pit, like those available in bigger centres.

“We train the best we can,” said coach Fisher. “Jeremiah has been jumping for two years now, so he’s got the technique. He cleared 2.70 metres at the provincials, which tied his personal best. He jumped that at the Fraser Valleys, too.”

Justin Dolan, also a Grade 9 student, qualified for the javelin but was unable to secure transportation to the event.

“His qualifying throw was over 41 metres at the Fraser Valleys,” said Fisher. “That was second-best in junior and fourth-best overall — and the best in our school this year.

“He should be pretty good,” added the coach. “I think I’ve convinced him to practice next year.”

And then there was Deschenes — an all-round athlete, who seems to be drawn to anything that moves.

“I was sitting in computer class and Mr. Fisher walked in and basically said, ‘You’re going in the decathlon.’

“I usually just trust what he says, so I went along with it… plus, I’d get a free T-shirt.”

Fisher added, “Blake’s high jump and javelin are two events that score pretty well — so I thought he should try it.”

The two worked through the 10 events on a recent Pro-D day and then Deschenes was on his own, as Fisher couldn’t be there for the competition.

There were seven competitors and three younger athletes taking part for the experience, said Deschenes, whose dad Gilbert was in charge of transporting the four-metre long vaulting pole to the event.

Blake cleared 167 cm in the high jump, his best event — and third-best jump of the day — and he gave his all in the other track and field disciplines… but it was the pole vault that had him distressed.

“I was only jumping one metre-50 in practice,” recalled Deschenes. Indeed, he could have tossed the pole aside and simply high-jumped better than that.

Then, a memorable gesture of good sportsmanship gave Deschenes the boost he needed.

“I talked to a coach from the Surrey public track and field club and he walked me through my practice jumps,” said Deschenes.

“With his help, I started at 1.50 and jumped to 2.20 without any faults. I faulted at 2.30, then jumped the second one… and missed all three at 2.35. I was the third to fault out.”

Buoyed by his rookie success, Deschenes said he plans to start training in September for the 2014 season.

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