Hockey and soccer attract the largest number of youth participants in 100 Mile House and the surrounding area, but there is a local group athletes and coaches dedicated to track and field.
Lori Meville is a teacher at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School (PSO) and has been coaching track for 16 years.
Currently, there are six athletes from 100 Mile House Junior Secondary regularly attending practices under the watchful eyes of their coach Tracy Moore, and there are 10 from PSO who Meville trains.
She says the turnout for track and field has been “pretty good” this year, but notes participation has peaks and valleys.
“We build a team, and by the time we get them to Grade 12, they’re a nice big group and then they’ll graduate. Then we’re starting from scratch again and building a new team.
“It seems to go in waves and we get a big group every three or four years.”
Despite track and field being extremely popular in this area’s elementary schools, Meville notes that when the students go to the secondary schools, a lot of things are happening in their lives and they don’t have time for track and field.
“It’s jobs, studies or social commitment that takes up their time. Then some students try to do too many sports, such as hockey and soccer.”
Currently, the squad is training for the zones in Prince George on May 23-24. She notes students don’t have to have to qualify, as everyone can compete.
However, Meville says they have to make a certain level of qualifications if they want to go to provincials.
She adds 100 Mile House athletes have had some really good years at the zones.
“We’ve had them come back with firsts, seconds and thirds. They give placements up to eighth and they gain points for their teams. We have placed quite high in the team standings, but it’s been a few years.”
The current team has some javelin and discus throwers, hurdlers, sprinters and long-distance runners, as well as high, triple and long jumpers.
Meville says the PSO athletes usually start indoors training in February and work on their fitness until they can get out on the fields.
Coach Phil Johnston and Moore work with the throwers, and Meville says that is great because her strength is in the track events.
“Track and field is such a neat group to coach … they are self-motivated and they want to do the best they can do and they’re not necessarily competing against each other – although they get to zones and they’re pretty competitive.”
Jason Ruscheinsky has been competing in javelin and discus since he was in Grade 8, and the Grade 12 PSO student says he is looking forward to competing at the zones.
Ruscheinsky started throwing javelin in Grade 8 after he discovered he had a knack for it. He went to the zones that year and finished second.
Noting he didn’t compete last year due to the teachers withdrawing from extracurricular activities, Ruscheinsky says he is getting back into form now.
However, he sustained a hockey injury last year and cannot throw the javelin as well as he used to, so he is concentrating on the discus now.
“That’s turning into my main sport now.”
As far as the zones go, Ruscheinsky says he is just going to do the best he can.
“Really that’s all you can do … and hope for the best. I think I’m a contender, especially with the discus – maybe not the javelin, but that’s why I’m out here today working on it.”