Braden Deagle thought his best chance for a return to the provincials had come and gone last Wednesday at the zone high school track and field meet in Stettler.
After narrowly missing a requisite top-two finish in the rain-soaked intermediate boys’ long jump, the Grade 11 student from William E. Hay Composite High School bounced back to finish second in the 200-metre race and earn his ticket to the provincial meet this Friday at Calgary.
“I was a little surprised,” Deagle said. “I was very surprised, actually. But it went well.”
The 200 metres is a relatively new event for Deagle, who gave it a try — and won — just a week earlier at the area meet in Stettler.
“I’m really appreciating Mr. (Anthony) Jones’ coaching, because he’s really pushing me,” said Deagle, 17. “He’s making me realize what I can do.”
On the morning of the area meet, Jones suggested Deagle drop the high jump in favour of the 200, which proved to be one of four individual events that Deagle won in that competition.
“I’m pretty happy that he made me do it (the 200),” Deagle said with a chuckle.
“He’s really focused on the actual technique of running and the strategies of how to start off your race. He really explains and breaks it down, each part of the race, and gives you the technique of how to do it.”
Deagle not only “did it” last Wednesday on his home track, but he did so under trying circumstances. The 200-metre race was near the end of a soggy day that included a heavy hammering of afternoon rain.
“Yeah, that’s for sure,” said Deagle, who changed out of his wet gear between the long jump and the 200 metres.
“I was kind of just wanting the race to be over, so I could be done with the day … and go home. I wasn’t really expecting much out of the race, so I was pretty surprised when I qualified.”
Deagle’s time of 24.14 seconds was second only to Eckville’s Jonathon Allan, whose time was 23.71.
“He’s actually my cousin’s cousin, so I kind of know who he is,” Deagle said of Allan.
“My cousin told me that I was going to be racing against him (last) week, so I was a little nervous to go up against him. I really wanted to do well.
“That was only my second time ever running the 200.”
Allan also won the 100-metre dash, in which Deagle finished fourth and Andrew Kim of William E. Hay placed sixth. Allan’s time was 11.52, while Deagle ran the course in 11.65 and Kim checked in at 11.83. Between the two Stettler runners was Delburne’s Parker Fox, with an 11.74 clocking.
Before his family moved to Stettler last summer, Deagle went to the provincials last year as a long jumper representing Consort School. He almost qualified again this year in the long jump, finishing third with a jump of 5.68 metres after a long rain delay.
“After I finished that, I didn’t really care very much, because I’m already really busy the weekend of provincials, so I wasn’t too bummed out, but then I was placed for the 200, I was almost a little disappointed,” Deagle said with a laugh. “Because if I would have known I would qualify in that, I probably would have pushed that much harder in the long jump. But, oh well.”
The intermediate long-jump champion was Lindsay Thurber’s Clayton Wong, with a jump of 5.79 metres. Ian Vanderhoek of Central Alberta Christian was second with a 5.75 mark, just ahead of Deagle (5.68m).
“I was tied for second for quite a bit of it, and then after the rain came down I lost my marker,” he said. “I didn’t know where to start, and I was basically just guessing for the last three jumps, and the first two were toe-overs, so I finally made the last one count. But the first two were pretty good jumps, so I was a little disappointed, ’cause if I would have known where to start, I probably could have placed.”
In the triple jump, Deagle finished fourth with a jump of 11.70 metres. Wong’s winning mark was 12.36.
This weekend, Deagle caps his exceptional first year of Wildcat athletics. He excelled in volleyball and basketball and now has reached the provincials in track. The 200-metre heats are set for Friday morning.
It’s an extra-busy weekend for Deagle, who’s also juggling training for his summer job and a Camrose soccer tournament with the Stettler under-18 team.