Track athletes train for new season

The Hope Mustangs have about 30 members on the team this year

Jeremiah Steberl heads over an imaginary crossbar

It’s Monday after school and the Hope Secondary field is hopping with activity, bubbling with the infectious enthusiasm that is at its peak on a sunny spring afternoon.

While Jeremy Smith works the senior girls’ soccer team through a few hours of drills on the soccer pitch, members of the track and field team toil around the periphery, launching javelins into safe areas and pole-vaulting at the long jump pit.

Now in his seventh year as track and field coach, Jason Fisher has a busy few hours, travelling between the different groups. Fisher only has two eyes and the students have learned to wait their turn, while working on their own.

Fisher heads over to the pole vault pit and watches Jeremiah Steberl go through a few jumps in the makeshift pit. Lacking standards, a crossbar or even a box to plant the pole in, Steberl is making-do with a pole and a high jump mat, working on his approach, his plant and his swing up.

On this day, it’s looking like Steberl could clear 2.5 meters… but it sure would be nice to have a hard target. He’ll get his chance, at meets down the valley and in Kamloops and Victoria in the coming months.

From the pit, Fisher heads over to the east parking lot, where students are working on their javelin skills. He has Mina Kim shadow him in a slow-mo approach to the launch line, showing how to generate power and speed through proper foot work, then he stands back and critiques a series of students as they go through their throws.

Over by the outdoor courtyard, Tansie Pauls awaits her turn for the coach’s advice on her footwork for the discus. She uses a length of plumbing pipe, held between her hands and over her shoulder blades, to maintain arm-position for the mock throw. Fisher takes the pipe and shows the way to leap forward while in the spin and hands it back to Pauls to try out. After a few attempts, her form shows a marked improvement.

Fisher estimates that he has about 30 athletes in the program this year.

“We’ve got 10 middle and long-distance runners, though I don’t know how many will stick it out and go to meets,” he says, “but that’s rare to have so many.

“We have about the same for sprinters — with one hurdler, Kelly Peters.

“We have oodles of throwers, though they don’t just do that. They overlap with other events. Javelin is the most popular, because they think it’s cool,” says the coach.

Manny Warren, Autumn Clark and Blake Deschenes will be doing the high jump as well.

Athletes have to limit themselves to only three events when they go to high school meets, with the exception of heptathlon and decathlon. Deschenes competed in the decathlon at the B.C. high school provincials but is working through some injuries this year, says Fisher.

Potentially, Deschenes and Steberl could go in the decathlon and Peters and Autumn Perry-White in the heptathlon next year,” he adds. “We’ll need more preparation time, though.”

The first meet for the Mustangs will be April 25 at Sardis Secondary, with Agassiz and Chilliwack schools competing. April 30 and May 1, the Upper Fraser Valley Championships are held in Abbotsford. Top 12 finishers get to go to the Fraser Valleys in Coquitlam in mid-May, followed by the provincials in Langley, May 29-31. As well, there are community club meets in Kamloops and Victoria.

With practice winding down after 5 o’clock, Kim brings her javelins over to the courtyard, to get Fisher to watch her style.

“Just one more…” he says.

Three throws later, she’s launching some of her best of the day, in the 25-30 meter range. A real keener.

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