Drew McKinlay is a prime example of what a successful student athlete is.
On Wednesday she earned the top senior girls ranking for Hunting Hills High School at the Area Track and Field Championships and on Friday evening she will be standing in front of her peers, family and friends to deliver her valedictorian address.
Not a bad week for the 17-year-old aspiring actuary, who will be attending the University of Calgary next year.
“I’m nervous (about the speech), I’m more comfortable with the track,” said McKinlay, who also played for the Lightning’s senior girls basketball team.
On the track she finished first in the 100-metre dash, the 200-metre dash, 80-metre hurdles and helped the Lightning to a second place finish in the 4×100-metre relay at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, securing a spot at next week’s zone championships. Her goals for track this season are fairly simple after finishing fifth in the 80-metre hurdles last year at provincials.
“I’m hoping (to get on the podium) my fingers are crossed,” said the five-foot-10 McKinlay.
“My height helps and I’ve been working on my technique since Grade 9 to go with that and being able to sprint in between and go fast has helped that as well.”
Wednesday was a big day for a number of local athletes, with the top two in each event qualifying for zones.
Each of Red Deer’s three big schools had their success stories.
Also showing well for Hunting Hills was Bailey Johnson who tied for first in junior girls with gold in the 400 and 800 metres and bronze in the 200 metres dash and 4×100 metre relay. Erika Pearson finished in second in the senior girls with gold in the long jump, and triple jump and silver in the 80-metre hurdles and 4×100-metre relay. Eric Lutz finished as the second overall intermediate boy, winning the 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres.
Host Lindsay Thurber’s Ben Pasiuk finished first in the intermediate boys with gold in the 100-metre dash, silver in the 200 metres, bronze in the 400 metres, gold in the triple jump and gold in the 4×100-metre relay and 4×400-metre relay.
The Raiders dominated intermediate girls with Kaylee Domoney finishing first with 34 points, winning the 100 metres, 200 metres and long jump while teaming with Kelsey Lalor, who finished second in the age group, on the 4×100 metre relay. Domoney added a silver in shot put. Lalor also earned gold in javelin and the 4×400-metre relay, and silver in the 100, 200 and in discuss
Caleb Heinrichs won the junior boys division, finishing first in the 100, 200, long jump and both the 4×100-metre relay and 4×400-metre relays.
Reece Lehman, 16, meanwhile, finished third in the junior boys with gold in the 100 metre hurdles and high jump and bronze in the triple jump.
“I knew I had a good shot at high jump and I ended up winning that, I wasn’t too sure how I would do in hurdles and I ended up winning that too, so that was good,” he said.
Lehman is coming off a successful weekend in his other big sport, helping the U16 Central Alberta Kings Volleyball Club to division I, tier II gold at the Canadian Open Volleyball Championships in Calgary, for an overall finish of ninth out of 60 teams from across the country at the tournament.
With his strength in jumping events, he sees a lot of crossover between the two sports.
“That was awesome, we haven’t really done that well for a while, so it was nice to do that,” said the six-foot-three Lehman, who played middle on Kings. “It’s all jumping, it all goes hand in hand, that’s why I chose to do these events.”
Notre Dame also had a lot of success with national level decathlete Brayden Posyluzny cleaning up in his events, earning gold in the 200-metre dash, 100-metre hurdles and long jump plus a silver in the javelin,
Jaylan Doyle finished second in the junior boys division with gold in the 1,500 and 3,000 metre runs and silver in the 800.
Tiana Lemon, meanwhile, made a big return to the track, earning junior girls gold in the long jump, triple jump and 80 metre hurdles and silver in the 4×100-metre relay, tying with Johnson for the junior girls title.
She suffered a second grade sprain of her ankle just before the Alberta Summer Games last year, while she still competed at the Games she shut it down for the season afterwards.
Wednesday’s efforts, which included a personal best in the triple jump and long jump, gives her a lot of confidence for the up coming season.
“This high school season, my goal is to make provincials and I do want to place in triple jump, that’s where I think I will have the most success,” said Lemon, 16.
The meet featured 10 schools from Central Alberta, and the smaller schools did manage to hold their own against the big three from Red Deer and will be sending their fair share of athletes to zones as well. Delbourne’s Taylor Adams earned gold in both the intermediate girls shot put and discus; Innisfail’s Emily Lucas took gold in the intermediate girls 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres; and H.J. Cody had a trio of boys gold medals with Gallen Donaghy in the intermediate high jump, Carson Walker in the senior boys high jump and Austin Ilcisin in the senior boys discus among a number of top small school performances.
“Being from a smaller school you don’t have the numbers on your track team, but we have some kids form H.J. Cody that are moving on to zones, from Penhold Crossing, from Spruce View, we have someone from Red Deer Koinonia that is going to be moving on,” said meet organizer Richard Kidd of Penhold Crossing Secondary School. “Certainly a good representation from all of the schools in this area.”