Justin McCartney is one of the premier running backs in the Central Alberta High School Football League, but that’s only part of his talent.
The Grade 11 Sylvan Lake star is also one of the top track and field athletes in the area, which he showed during the regional high school championships at the Legion Field at Lindsay Thurber Thursday.
The 17-year-old won all four of his individual events, easily capturing the intermediate boys’ aggregate title.
McCartney showed a rare combination of strength and speed, winning the 100 and 200-metre finals as well as the javelin and shot put.
“I’ve always been a big kid, but I’ve also been a sprinter . . . I love to run and I always want to be the fastest,” said the five-foot-11, 195-pound McCartney, who has been involved in the sport for “several” years and even trained with the Titans Track Club for a couple of years when he was younger.
“I started when I was young and fell in love with it and stuck with it,” he said.
He also loves football and the odds are he’ll have to pick one of the two after he graduates high school. And that will likely be football.
He’s already been contacted by the University of Calgary Dinos about playing football, and that will mean the end of his track days, although the U of C does have a good track and field program.
“It’s tough to do both at that level. You have to be healthy to do track and football beats you up,” said McCartney, who helped the Lakers to a second-place finish at last year’s provincial tier III football championships.
“They help each other,” he said. “Football helps my strength for track and field and the sprinting helps with football.”
He also plays soccer, badminton and basketball and will look at playing rugby with the Red Deer Titans after the track and field season is over. But first things first and that’s performing at his best at the zone track and field finals Wednesday in Camrose and “hopefully” at the provincials, June 5-6 in Calgary.
“Last year I made the provincials in the shot put and finished ninth out of 15,” he said. “It was tough because it was my first time at the provincials and I was there by myself. My goal is to go back and make it in more than one event.”
McCartney won the 100-metre final Thursday in a time of 11.52 seconds with Jayden Wiebe of Lindsay Thurber at 11.72. McCartney posted a time of 24.26 seconds in the 200 final ahead of Cody Bourque of Hunting Hills, who came in at 25.42 seconds.
He won the javelin with a toss of 41.34m and the shot put with a throw of 11.54m.
Grady Bowd of LTCHS was second in the javelin at 32.57m and Ryan Clark of LTCHS second in the shot put at 10.95m.
The intermediate boys was one of hottest contested divisions. McCartney finished with 36 points while Wiebe had 32 and Clark 30.
Wiebe won the triple jump and hurdles while Clark also won the high jump and long jump.
Sean Tuff of LTCHS accumulated 32 points to take top spot in the senior boys’ division with teammate Matt Zilinski second with 29 points and Colton Brule of Hunting Hills and Isreal Lalemu of Notre Dame tying for third with 27 points.
Jay Marchi of LTCHS took top spot in the junior boys’ category with Nathan Zilinski with 26 points and Daniel Grenier of LTCHS and Kirk Robinson of Innisfail at 23.
Breann Coupal of Notre Dame won the senior girls’ aggregate with 34 points with Melody Mackay of H.J. Cody of Sylvan Lake at 25 and Kayla Rogers of LTCHS 24.
Fallan Schalin and Jill Thomas of LTCHS had 25 points each and Jackie Chapman of LTCHS 22 in the intermediate division while Telaina Snider of LTCHS took the junior title with 34 points. Lexi Kambeitz of Hunting Hills and Carrie Stoyberg of Notre Dame had 27 points each.
Both Coupal and Snider were triple winners. Coupal won the 400m, long jump and shot put and was second in the javelin while Snider captured the hurdles, triple jump and long jump and was second in the high jumps.
• The top two athletes in each in event advance to the zone championships.
Contact Danny Rode at firstname.lastname@example.org