BEHIND a thickly-built future NCAA quarterback and a wiry sprinter, the Kelvin High School track team is looking to make a splash this weekend at the province's premier high school meet.
Ben Allen, who recently committed to Simon Fraser University football team, and Matthew Fitkowsky, who has already seen impressive success running at national events, will join around 1,500 other high schoolers from around the province at the 2010 MILK Provincial High School Track and Field Championships this weekend at the University of Manitoba.
Allen, who is finishing Grade 12, will compete in the 100- and 200-metres along with the long jump; Fitkowsky, in Grade 11, will run the 200- and 400-metres. They are also anchoring the 4x100- and 4x400-metre relay teams, respectively.
Both runners relish the chance to run against one another in the 200, something they've been doing since their years at River Heights Junior High.
"It definitely helps, running against each other," said Fitkowsky. "Last week we ran head-to-head and we both set personal bests."
Coach Tim Shynkaruk appreciates the friendly competition between his runners. "It's not just them... in practice there's a group of about six or seven guys that all push each other. It's a really good rivalry where they encourage each other and never take any days off. They're always making each other better."
As much as they push each other in the 200, both excel at other distances.
Allen has his sights set on taking the 100 -- "I like to keep them short and sweet, I guess" -- while Fitkowsky has lofty goals in the 400.
"The high school provincial record is 0:49.10 while my personal best is 0:49.20, so it's definitely in my sights this year," he said.
"I've tried running the (400) against this guy," added Allen, "but I just can't keep up. He's a level above me."
Fitkowsky has ran the event at national competitions, finishing second twice. While Fitkowsky still has another year to represent Kelvin on the track, Allen is wrapping up a successful high school sports career before moving on to bigger and, arguably, better things with the Simon Fraser Clan.
The school is in the midst of a two-year transition period that will see them move from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport conference to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, a move that will make them the first non-American school to be part of the NCAA.
As a quarterback, Allen will be confronted with some unique hurdles moving from the larger fields of 12-man football to the tighter 11-man American game.
"Coverages will be different, personnel will be different, there'll be a lot more running," he said. "It'll definitely be a challenge for me to get used to."
His gridiron success actually found its roots on the track. "He started off as a track athlete," said Shynkaruk. "The football coach came to me and said 'I need a quarterback for next year, who's a good prospect?' So I told him about Ben, and it went from there."
Fortunately, his track career won't have to end to make time for football, as Simon Fraser has granted him the opportunity to participate in both.
With his two stars leading a strong contingent of athletes, Shynkaruk is confident about the Clippers' chances. "I can't say we're going to win it, but we'll definitely be in there.
"We'll be one of the teams to watch for."
Athletes to watch
Carly Paracholski (Sisler): 100m, 200m, 400m
Meagan Paracholski (Sisler): 400m, 800m, 1,500m
Braeden Peters (Garden Valley, Winkler): 400m, 800m, 1,500m
Tyler Mislawchuk (Sanford): 1,500m, 3,000m