DJSS athletes return home victorious from ‘tune-up’ tournament

At the epoch of this year’s Territorial Championships, students from Hay River have returned from a track meet in Alberta ready to face the challenge.
Six Diamond Jenness Secondary School athletes returned to the Peace Country Classic Track and Field meet in Grande Prairie on May 14 with some pretty hefty wins. The entire Northwest Territories contingent returned home with eight gold, three silver and four bronze medals as well as a collection of top 10 finishes.  But DJSS students know that this is just the beginning.

“There’s more competition at the Territorial Championships,” said Joe LeBlanc, DJSS teacher and track and field coach. “There’s a higher volume of athletes so there’s definitely a lot for them to prepare for.”
LeBlanc said that attending the Peace Country meet acts as a tune-up for athletes competing in the territorial event, and to introduce them to different competition.
“I think they’re really prepared now,” said LeBlanc. “The ones who have done the training and challenged themselves, that will show up on the track.”
DJSS’ own Skylar Horton took first place in 15-16-year-old division for the 200 metre sprint and long jump, and second in 100 metre sprint.  Christopher Lirette took first in the 17-18 division for both the 200 metre sprint and shot-put, while taking second in the 100 metre.  Ian Keefe achieved second in the 17-18 division for 1500 metre race and took third in the 800 metre.
Joseph Lirette picked up two third place wins in 17-18 division for the 400 metre and javelin.
Finally, Aaron Moizis took fourth for the standing long-jump in the 13-14 division.
Leblanc said a few eyebrows were raised when three girls accompanied Christopher Lirette in the boys’ 100 metre relay. But apparently,  jaws dropped as DJSS’ Horton, Fort Smith’s Alicia Korol, Yellowknife’s Julianna Neudorf, and Lirette himself took the second in the race.
“It was a really tight race,” said Leblanc.
“They started off at fourth but took it to second towards the end.”
Leblanc said he was proud of the results and efforts of this all students who attended this year’s meet in Grande Prairie, as well as the hard work put in by athletes who couldn’t make the event.
But he also hopes to see students push for a level of competition that will bring them beyond the territory.
“There are some in there that could definitely go on to reach nationals,” he said. “With the right amount of training and coaching, there’s nothing keeping them from taking it to the next level.”
The seasoned track athletes put their skills to the test, training at least three times per week for track meets like the Western Canada Games, and amping it up to five times per week before national games like the Canada Winter Games.
Students who compete at the Territorial Championships this coming weekend could earn the chance to travel to the Canada Western Games in Kamloops, B.C. in August, and potentially on to the Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec in 2013.
“All our athletes have standards they have to meet,” said Leblanc.