“They’re students of the sport.”
That’s how track coach Anthony Jones describes Braden Deagle and Dacia Gramlick — the two Stettler students bound for the provincial high school track and field championships this weekend in Calgary.
Although the high school track season is short and participation is limited in the Stettler region, Jones believes he’s working with true athletes in Deagle and Gramlick, among others.
“The amount of training is very important,” said Jones, a former U.S. college runner.
“But with these athletes we have here in Stettler, these are natural athletes. They’re doing very, very well. It’s just a few technical aspects that we work on, showing them a few technical shifts in their running to help them to run naturally and not mechanically.”
Deagle (in the intermediate boys’ 200 metres) and Gramlick (in the junior girls’ long jump) each qualified for the provincials with second-place finishes in the zone meet last week at Stettler. Both are students at William E. Hay Composite High School.
“Dacia, like Braden and the other athletes that really do well, they are very malleable, or they’re like clay,” said Jones, a Stettler resident who ran track at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla., a decade ago and rubbed shoulders with Olympic medallists and world champions.
“They absorb and they’re able to be shaped, when it comes to technique, when it comes to form, and they really take it in quickly. They adapt. “It’s kind of like a dial on a radio, where you want to adjust the frequency until you get that right station that you want, without the static. So, working on their form, that’s the type of work that we do, always making adjustments to their stride, their stride frequency, which people interpret as rapid foot movement, and a conscious awareness of how to move that, either a little quicker or to slow it down when necessary. The discipline of lifting their feet so that there’s full range of motion.”
Jones has embraced an invitation from William E. Hay athletic department guru Warren Aspenes to coach the Wildcats.
He said the Wildcats are a small but dedicated group, and he sees “great potential” in the likes of Deagle, Gramlick and Andrew Kim.
“There’s some wonderful aspects to working with these kids,” Jones said. “And because they’re so malleable, and they love the sport, and they study the sport, they’re becoming students of the sport.
“They go out and they look at the form and the techniques of some of the more professional athletes that are out there that they aspire to be like. They see what they’re doing is getting them closer to that form.”
This season, Jones and other Wildcat coaches have worked with the track athletes for the past six weeks.
“We began in early May,” Jones said. “It’s a very short time, compared to other athletes around the world that train all year-round.
“Even next door in Red Deer, I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to assist with the Titans track team. They have storage facilities within the Collicutt Centre and they train year-round. It’s about 70 strong on that track team. We saw one of their juniors break two zone records here (in Stettler).”
That athlete was Notre Dame’s Brayden Posyluzny, who set standards in the junior boys’ 100 metres (10.96 seconds) and 200 metres (22.68).