The provincial high school track and field meet is still nearly two months away, but the Maples Marauders have already served notice that they’ll be a team to watch.
The Marauders won the boys’ and girls’ conference championships at the recent KPAC indoor meet, and posted a second-place girls’ showing and six-place boys’ finish at the Super Series provincial indoor event.
"It’s a good group with a lot of kids that have been in our program since Grade 9," said coach Carl Lechman. "I think we could have some good success outdoors as well."
One of the key contributors on the boys’ team was Jessie Gamis, who finished third in the high jump at the KPAC event — and topped that with a gold medal at the provincial indoor meet — and sixth in the hurdles.
"I’ve been jumping all my life," said the Grade 12 student. "It was in Grade 9 that I first started training and competing, and it was something I really liked. For three years I was stuck on one height, and this year it’s seemed to change finally."
Coach Rae Leaden pointed out that the school doesn’t have the greatest training facility for the high jump, which makes Gamis’s accomplishments all the more impressive.
"There isn’t a great amount of space to practise,"she said.
Grade 11 student Dalyn Alfonso won the girls’ long jump in the KPAC event and proved that was no fluke when she finished second in the province in the triple jump and third in the provincial long jump. She first made noise on the provincial scene last year when she medalled in the junior varsity 400-metres at the outdoor provincial meet.
"I’m not too sure," she replied when asked what has made her jumping improve this spring. "I guess it’s hard work and lots of practice. I play lots of other sports, and I think they help me, too."
Alfonso is hoping to prove she’s one of the top five jumpers in the province in both the triple jump and long jump once the outdoor season gets into high gear, a goal that should be attainable if she can post personal bests.
One of the Marauders’ top conference rivals, Lord Selkirk, wasn’t at the KPAC championship due to a storm the day of the meet, so Leaden is waiting to see how her team stacks up against the Royals. She also points to Kelvin and Vincent Massey as teams to watch when the weather warms up.
"The key is to have a deep team," Leaden said. "Only a few kids can be in first place, but when you get points for finishing in fifth through eighth, those kids are what can give you a winning team. If we get all our athletes out, we’ll be pretty well."