While most Albertans were engaged in far-less-physical pursuits on the Victoria Day holiday, Austin Cherewko worked out Monday afternoon on the Stettler track alongside William E. Hay Composite High School.
Cherewko, a Grade 11 student at William E. Hay, trained with his three relay teammates from Castor’s Gus Wetter School as they fine-tuned their entry for today’s Central Alberta zone track and field championships in Camrose.
“It doesn’t hurt to practise, that’s for sure,” said Cherewko, who qualified for the zone meet with first-place finishes in the intermediate boys’ 400 metres and the 4X100-metre relay last week at the area championships in Stettler.
“And it’s better than no practice … just work on the errors and focus on the strengths.”
Cherewko, a fleet-footed football player with the 2011 provincial Tier 3 champion Stettler Wildcats, jumped into the track season, though most William E. Hay students stayed on the sidelines.
He also placed third last week in the intermediate boys’ 200 metres, but would have needed a top-two finish to qualify for zones in that event.
He’s kicking off the relay for an otherwise-Castor team that he just joined last Tuesday during the area meet. One of the Castor kids suffered a leg injury in the high jump, bumping him out of the relay, and Cherewko got word that they were trying to fill an intermediate boys’ slot.
He ended up running the opening leg of a winning relay effort with Max Schaffner, Dallyn Pawsey and Tristan VanZandbergen.
“I started off and we had a great start,” Cherewko said. “I was actually surprised how good we did. I thought we did pretty well. Our time was 50.8 (seconds).”
The Gus Wetter trio came to Stettler on holiday Monday to practise on the track with Cherewko.
“I warmed up a little bit and did some running, but not too much, so I wouldn’t strain myself,” he said on a warm but breezy afternoon. “Then the Castor guys came down and we started working on handing off the baton.
“They were telling me, ‘We don’t have a facility (at home) that we can actually train on.’ It makes Stettler feel a little bit special that we have all this equipment that we can work with, so I’m very grateful for that.”
Track participation, however, among Stettler high school students is considerably low. Only about 12 of them competed in the area meet on their home turf last week.
“We could have probably had a few more,” Cherewko said. “There was a couple of people that could have come out and joined, but that’s their choice. You would think that more people would come out, but people have other obligations.
“I like to participate. If I could have time for all the sports, I’d do all the sports, if I could. But I don’t have time for all of them.
“I have a job, I’m doing track and I’m doing football. I wanted to do badminton, but I couldn’t participate.”
Almost six-foot-two and about 150 pounds, Cherewko is built like a runner. He won the 400 metres in 59.50 seconds and placed third in the 200 metres in 25.60 seconds.
He knows the competition becomes that much stiffer today in the zone meet, as athletes try to qualify for the provincials, set for June 1 and 2 in Edmonton.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, that’s for sure,” Cherewko said. “I’m going to have to push myself.
“I don’t really know how good I’ll do. Hopefully, I’ll do good — a positive attitude is always the key. But I’m not 100 per cent sure.”
He’s certain, though, that his participation in track complements his training for football.
“I think it’s very comparable,” he said. “I have to break out really fast to make my cuts hard, so it makes split-second decisions so much faster and easier, so I train myself for both sports for next year and this year.”
Cherewko sees promise for the William E. Hay track team, with the likes of Grade 10 student Andrew Kim on board. In junior boys’ competition last week, Kim won the 200 metres in 25.20 seconds and placed third in the 100 metres in 11.90 seconds.
“He’s very fast,” Cherewko said. “I saw him run the 200, and just him breaking out, it was cool to see.”
AREA TRACK AND FIELD MEET
Top-five results for athletes from William E. Hay (Stettler) and Gus Wetter (Castor) schools, with times and distances:
100 metres — 1. Carly Armstrong, WEH, 13.40; 2. Jamie Ternes, WEH, and Ashley Houghton, Wainwright, 13.50.
200 metres — 2. Corey Garbutt, WEH, 29.20; 3. Carly Armstrong, WEH, 29.30; 4. Jamie Ternes, WEH, 29.60.
400 metres — 1. Corey Garbutt, WEH, 1:07.20.
800 metres — 1. Corey Garbutt, WEH, 2:51.00; 3. Jennifer Taylor, WEH, 3:28.00.
High jump — 1. Meriah Wiart, GW, 1.60; 3. Brianna Bowyer, GW, 1.39.
Long jump — 1. Carly Armstrong, WEH, 4.73.
Triple jump — 5. Meriah Wiart, GW, 8.23.
Shot put — 3. Brooke Torgerson, WEH, 7.50; 5. Kyrstin Sandstrom, GW, 6.85.
Discus — 3. Meriah Wiart, GW, 18.62.
Javelin — 5. Meriah Wiart, GW, 14.64.
100 metres — 3. Andrew Kim, WEH, 11.90.
200 metres — 1. Andrew Kim, WEH, 25.20.
100 metres — 1. Dallyn Pawsey, GW, 12.10; 4. Max Schaffner, GW, 12.90.
200 metres — 1. Dallyn Pawsey, GW, 25.00; 3. Austin Cherewko, WEH, 25.60.
400 metres — 1. Austin Cherewko, WEH, 59.50.
800 metres — 1. Tristan VanZandbergen, GW, 2:54.00.
Long jump — 1. David Hanton, GW, 5.51.
Triple jump — 5. Tristan VanZandbergen, GW, 6.65.
Shot put — 2. Max Schaffner, GW, 10.96; 5. Elliott Mabbott, WEH, 9.11.
Discus — 1. Elliott Mabbott, WEH, 28.79.
Javelin — 3. Max Schaffner, GW, 31.14.
100 metres — 1. Anton Stewart, WEH, 11.50.
200 metres — 1. Anton Stewart, WEH, 24.40.
1,500 metres — 2. Derrick Van Hienen, GW, 5:51.00; 3. Luke Nibourg, GW, 6:04.00.
High jump — 1. Derrick Van Hienen, GW, 1.70; 2. Luke Nibourg, GW, 1.66.
JOHN MacNEIL, Independent editor