STELLARTON, N.S. -
(Note: On July 6-7, the Pioneer Coal Athletics Field in Stellarton will be hosting a track meet for athletes across the Maritimes. Part of the meet is the Nova Scotia Legion trials, in which 38 athletes from across the province will be selected to the provincial team from about 100 athletes competing for those 38 spots).
It didn’t take long for Keighan DeCoff to find her place in track and field.
DeCoff, of Fraser’s Mountain, got started in the sport a little more than two years ago.
“My brother was in track, so I’d been at the track a lot for a couple of years, just watching some of the events,” says the 15-year-old, who will enter Grade 11 at North Nova Education Centre in the fall.
“Pat (Carty) introduced me to throwing, and I just liked it as soon as I started it.”
She’s also very good at it: competing in the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) track and field championships in the spring, she was best overall in shot put – even competing against older students – and won the discus in her age group. Accomplishments such as those are catching the attention of universities in the U.S.
“It makes me feel pretty good, knowing that some schools are already looking at how I’m doing at such a young age – my dad’s gotten a few emails and calls (from U.S. schools). Some of the top athletes (in post-secondary schools) – I see them throw, and well they’ve done, and I want to be at that level if I get the chance to in a couple of years.”
She’s a bit of a natural in the throwing events.
“She’s very talented – strong, powerful and has quite a bit of speed, along with a natural ability pick it up quick,” says Carty.
IN THE RUNNING
Allie Sandluck is catching her breath. She’d just run five 400-metre sprints around the Pioneer Coal track, along with several other middle-distance runners training with PCA.
“We’re gonna do 10 of those tonight,” says the 16-year-old MacPherson’s Mills resident, whose older sister Breanna runs track at St.FX University. “We just did five, and we’ll take a little break and do five more.”
Sandluck, a silver medalist in the 3000m event at NSSAF provincials, went to Legion nationals three years ago, when they were held in Quebec.
“This weekend is my final opportunity,” she says.
“I’m just trying to zone in to my race, not really think about it too much, and stay relaxed.”
She’s hoping to run well enough to make the provincial team, but tries to block out the distractions and focus instead on the race.
“I’m just going to do my best. I’m trying not to stress about it too much.”
DeCoff and Sandluck are two of a handful of competitors with Pictou County Athletics who have a good chance at making the provincial team this weekend.
“We have maybe six athletes that are in the hunt – that have an excellent chance,” Carty adds.
• The U16 and U18 team will compete at the National Legion Championships in Sydney, N.S. from Aug. 9-11 at the University of Cape Breton.
• This weekend’s meet will also attract about 200 other athletes (ages seven to 65), competing to sharpen their skills for the upcoming Atlantic Championships, to be held in Moncton on July 13-14.
• Start time is 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday is at 9 a.m. Admission is $3 for adults, with those under 19 admitted free.