Sky’s the limit for Valley track and field

Cowichan Secondary School’s remarkable success at the provincial high school track and field championships in Langley last weekend, and in the Island championships before that, has coach Steve Ridenour thinking big.

“I think we can possibly knock off Oak Bay,” he said, targeting the school that has reigned atop Island high school track and field for the last quarter-century. “It’s a lofty goal, but I think it’s realistic. Oak Bay wins because of numbers, not because of the talent they have, and right now, the Valley has the best sprinters on the Island.”

Cowichan certainly looks like a team to beat, especially with a girls team that appears to have years of success to come.

“The best part about the girls’ side is that we have no Grade 12s,” Ridenour said. “They’re all Grade 9, 10 and 11 girls. We’re going to be strong next year.”

Cowichan finished with eight medals at the provincial meet, including four golds. Nicole Lindsay won gold in the junior girls 200m and silver in the 400m, and brother Liam claimed bronze in the senior boys long jump and 200m. Ben Williams captured gold in the junior boys triple jump, and Chicago Bains did the same in the senior girls 100m hurdles, while Taryn Smiley took bronze in the senior girls 100m.

Nicole Lindsay, Bains, Smiley and Casey Heyd also teamed up to win gold in the senior girls 4x100m relay, and they have the potential to hit loftier heights.

“I think they want to break the Island record, which Frances Kelsey has, and then break the provincial record,” Ridenour said.

Cow High’s junior girls relay team should have been in the finals as well, but dropped the baton in the heats.

“They had the best time going in, and I think they would have won as well,” Ridenour said.

Cowichan took just two male athletes to the meet – Williams and Liam Lindsay – but they both medalled, and the school might have collected more medals under different circumstances.

“Our senior boys relay team had to forfeit because of illness,” Ridenour noted. They would have made the finals at least.”

Ridenour gives credit for the athletes’s success to their coaches outside of school, especially in the sprints.

“It’s not due to us, it’s due to John May,” he said. “He’s doing a fantastic job with them and it’s starting to show with the depth we have with our sprinters.”

Other results for the school included Liam Lindsay’s fourth place in the senior boys 400m, Williams’s fourth in the junior boys high jump, Smiley’s fifth in the senior girls 200m, Heyd’s ninth in the junior girls 100m and 18th in the 200m, and Denise Roy’s eighth in the junior girls 100m and ninth in the 200m.

Cow High wasn’t the only school to bring home gold from the provincial meet. Distance runner Madison Heisterman brought home Queen Margaret’s School’s first-ever gold, winning the junior girls 1500m, and added a silver in the 800m, while teammate Abby Wadsworth finished 10th in the senior girls high jump.

“I’m very happy with how I ran in that race,” Heisterman said. “It’s exhausting to run that number of events in so short of a time. My legs are a little tired, but I’m so happy and grateful to my parents and family for their support.”

Sion Griffiths of Frances Kelsey also won gold in the Grade 8 boys javelin, along with a fourth in shot put, seventh in triple jump and 11th in high jump. Teammate Desirae Ridenour earned a bronze medal in the junior girls 3000m and placed eighth in the 3000m.

Also from Kelsey, Tia Baker placed fifth in the senior girls 400m, seventh in the 200m and 11th in the 100m; Jace Hilton was ninth in the Grade 8 boys 100m; Tyler Leech was 10th in the Grade 8 boys javelin; and Katie Farley was seventh in the Grade 8 girls 3000m Duncan Christian School’s lone representative at provincials, Mikayla Cook, finished 21st in the senior girls long jump.