STELLARTON – For some Legions will be their first taste of nationals, but for others they’re veterans on the big stage.
Six individuals that have played a major role in the Pictou County Athletics team success this summer have won the right to represent their province at next week’s Legion national youth track and field championships in Langley, B.C. The three-day event runs Aug. 15-17.
With the event being held in the same location as last year, both Kaelan Schmidt and Lauren Quann will be the only Pictou County athletes returning from the 2013 championship team. Last year they were competing as midget athletes, with Schmidt winning silver in the triple jump and gold in the high jump, while Quann was 10th in high jump and 23rd in the 1,200m. This year will be their first as youth (under 18).
“I’m so excited,” said Schmidt. “It will be a wicked time. We’re going with a great crew.”
Quann said last year was important to her development in the sport at large events.
“You just need to take it how it comes and you can’t get too caught up in where you are or what is going on around you,” she said. “You just need to focus on you and what you can do. I know how to do that better now.”
This year Quann will compete in high jump, 800m and javelin. Schmidt, who also competed in 2012, will compete in the long and high jump competitions.
Alyssa MacNeil also had some experience on the national stage in 2012, but had to miss out last season. After injuring her ankle she was unable to try out for the provincial team. This year is her last year of eligibility for the Legion championships.
“I really want to do well this time because I know it’s my last year,” she said about her 100m and 200m events. “I’m definitely more confident than I was last time. I was really nervous and the only thing I had going for me was that I could run fast. Now I’m good at warming up and knowing how to prepare myself for the events.”
Over the weekend at Atlantics in Moncton she won both events, so she hopes to be competitive in Langley.
Also successful over the weekend, Tatum McLean broke the provincial record, which was already hers, in the 14-15 girls hammer throw with a distance of 43.68m. She will be competing in the hammer throw and shot put at nationals.
“I expected I would be able to qualify for shot put because that’s been my best event for the past few years,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be able to compete in the hammer, but since I started it, it’s really come together quickly. I’m really comfortable with it now.”
This will be McLean’s first time at nationals. Olivia Pretty and Taylor Mattinson will also be competing for the first time, all at the midget level.
Pretty will be participating in the long jump and 300m events, while Mattinson is in the 200m and 300m races.
“It’s really nice to be able to represent your province,” said Pretty. “You’re part of a team, but are in an individual sport so you know you earned your spot to get there.”
The expectation going into the summer season for Pretty was that she could make the standard in the long jump, but it would be close in the 300m.
“In tryouts I won the event and had a personal best,” she said. “I checked the standard after the race and had it. It was the first time I reached the standard, which was really exciting.”
For information and results from next week’s event visit www.youth.athletics.ca.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris