The old cliche jack of all trades, master of none does not fly with Brayden Posyluzny.
The national champion Red Deer octathlete is well on his way to mastering all disciplines in track and field.
After winning gold at the Canadian Youth Legion Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C., in August, he is preparing for his final year at Notre Dame High School, and is attempting to secure scholarships to universities with a successful indoor season.
Maybe the most impressive part is that Posyluzny, 17, has only been in track and field for four years.
“I knew going into track that I wasn’t the best, I’d always finish below eighth and I wasn’t always the top guy,” he said. “I told myself it would take time and commitment to develop my skills and it would take time for me to get better, especially with all of my events.
“I just started to learn to tell myself not to worry about results now, worry about long-term goals and not to worry about what people think of you now because in the end it will all be OK.”
The octathlon combines the 100-metre sprint, long jump, shot put, 400 metres, 110-metre hurdles, high jump, javelin and 1,000 metres over the course of two days. He finished with 5,104 points, besting silver medallist Philippe Baril (4,965) of Quebec and bronze medallist Sam Fennell (4,931) of Ontario.
The five-foot-10, 170-pound Posyluzny also picked up silver in the 4×100-metre relay and bronze in the 4×400-metre relay.
By the time they get to high school, most athletes start zeroing in on certain events as a specialty. Some will have a small handful of events that they do well in.
But octathletes have to focus on all of them. This year as Posyluzny moves up to the junior age group, he will add pole vaulting and discus and compete as a decathlete. Olympic gold medal decathletes are considered the greatest athletes in the world.
“You have to have the mentality to push,” he said. “Imagine the focus it takes to get a hole in one and then trying to do it eight times, that’s kind of the mentality you have to have to get through it.”
His best events are the long jump, the shot put and the 1,000 metres.
The 400 metre causes him the most difficulty.
“You’re running at a faster pace for a shorter period of time, but that faster pace really kills you,” said Posyluzny.
His dad Darren Posyluzny has coached him with the Red Deer Titans Track and Field Club since he joined four years ago. He has watched him come a long way in a short time.
The question now is: how far can he go?
“As a coach, I think he’s got potential to compete at a higher class,” he said. “This national competition definitely was an eye opener … and now that he’s a junior, we’ll be looking at several competitions across the border and that way we will see exactly where he is and where he ranks.”
Being both coach and parent has been a difficult line to walk for Darren. There have been ups and downs in their relationship, but taking on both roles has allowed Darren to be more hands on in Brayden’s athletic career.
“The good part of it is as a parent/coach, when he’s home, I know what he’s eating, I know if he’s hydrating enough, I know if he’s training,” he said. “Where a normal coach, if I were to see him for just a few hours a day, you take for granted that you can tell him what to do but you just don’t know. As a parent, you can monitor what’s going on, but at times it’s a downfall too because you’re hypersensitive to everything that he’s doing.”
Brayden got into track after his dad joined the club five years ago. He had played other sports like soccer, basketball, badminton and hockey, but soon track took over. At first he was just into sprinting, but his drive took him to other events like jumping and throwing. The challenge to do well in all of them is almost an addiction.
Now moving up in age class, he is looking forward to tackling the pole vault and discus.
“I’m confident with my abilities (in pole vault) but I’m not confident in competition, because I always get nervous,” he said.
Track is now a year-round sport for the family.
During the summer, the Titans train at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and the athletes compete in a heavy outdoor schedule, both with the club and with their school teams.
When the mercury drops, they head indoors to the Collicutt Centre and compete throughout the winter at indoor events.
Right now, Posyluzny is angling for a scholarship, hoping a university or two has taken notice of his exploits.
Come summer, he will attempt to qualify for the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in Edmonton from July 2 to 5. To get there, he has to meet standards at the Spring Challenge in Calgary in May.
To meet those standards, he knows he has a lot of work to do.
“I’m working on more consistency,” he said. “You can’t just be outstanding in one event, you’ve got to be consistent in all of them.”
NOTES — Dacia Gramlick also competed at the Canadian Youth Legion Track and Field Championships for the Titans, finishing fifth in the heptathlon (100-metre hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-metre sprint, long jump, javelin and 800 metre) with 4,320 points.