The Prairie Storm Athletics club is proving to be the little organization that could.
Despite being a small club from rural Manitoba, the Neepawa-based organization is sending a competitor to the Simplot Games for the second straight year. Last year it was sprinters Charlot Butler of Brandon and Morgan Ramsay of Rivers, while this year it will be Daniele Dyck of Brandon competing in Pocatello, Idaho.
Dyck, a Grade 10 Vincent Massey student, will compete in the 60-metre sprint this week at one of the top indoor track and field events in the United States. For a club that has 15 full-time members during the winter and trains in a gymnasium and under the bleachers of the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa, getting athletes to the Simplot Games in back-to-back years is a huge accomplishment.
"Small club, rural Manitoba, really no facility throughout the winter and to be able to put athletes in there in back-to-back years is nice and hopefully we can keep doing that," said Bryce Koscielny, the director and head coach of Prairie Storm.
Dyck has worked to get to get to where she is. The 16-year-old has been training hard the last few years and won bronze medals in the junior varsity girls’ 100m and 200m sprints at the provincial high school track and field championships last year in Brandon. She competes in those two events during outdoor season and the 60m and 200m for indoor season.
Last week, she finished first at an indoor track event with a time of 8.11 seconds in the 60m.
Although she is tearing up the track in Manitoba, she admits there’s still a lot of room to grow and hopes the Simplot Games, which bring around 2,000 athletes together, will help with that.
"I think it’s a really great experience and it will give me a little insight into what other track competitions are like out of Canada," Dyck said. "If I choose to go to university or college outside of Canada, then I would know what it would be like out there."
"I’m not expecting to do very well in them. The competition in the States is pretty intense," she continued. "I’m hoping to do my best and hopefully get a personal best, but I’ll be happy however it goes."
One of the biggest differences Koscielny has noticed in Dyck is her knowledge of the sport is growing.
In previous years, he felt that she was just a fast runner. Now he believes she’s starting to understand warmups, mechanics and positioning and how hard it is to take one-tenth of a second off a personal-best time.
Koscielny and Dyck hope that the growth, and the experience from this week, will pay off huge dividends at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships, which will be held in the Wheat City from Aug. 11 to 13.
The Simplot Games has "kind of been pencilled in as a midway point in the season where we can evaluate where we’re at and exactly the areas we can focus on going outdoors," Koscielny said. "With the Legion being in Brandon this year, it’s kind of nice for her to get away to a big meet and go through everything that goes into that so that she’s comfortable and maybe gets rid of a few jitters before a big meet in August."
Dyck was sixth in the 100m and seventh in the 200m in her age group at the Legion event last year and she would love to improve on that.
The five-foot-six sprinter trains three to five days a week with the Vikings, who are coached by Jason Jones, and Prairie Storm teams and wants to continue to get better.
"I’m working towards being as best as I can be. I feel like I can improve a fair bit with training," Dyck said.
For Koscielny, those are words he likes to hear as he tries to keep this club — which will compete at the provincial indoor track and field championships March 3 and 4 — running and competitive.
"To me, that’s kind of what it’s about is encouraging the kids and it’s really rewarding when you have a kid willing to do three, four, five days of work in and it’s just a lot of fun to be there with her," he said.
For the first time in eight years, university playoff basketball is returning to Brandon. The Bobcats men’s basketball team will host the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack in a first-round best-of-three Canada West conference series at the Healthy Living Centre on Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday. All the games start at 7 p.m.
I have never experienced a BU men’s basketball playoff game, but from what I hear the atmosphere is fantastic and hopefully it will be again this weekend. I’ve heard stories of people lining up down the street waiting to get into the old gymnasium for playoff games, how the gym was packed to the rafters with fans and how some of them would storm the court to celebrate with players after BU victories. It was loud and raucous and opposing teams hated playing there — I heard that first-hand from the University of Regina Cougars players when I worked at the student newspaper there.
I was told the women’s volleyball national championship quarter-final match between Brandon and Trinity Western was the closest the HLC has come to having a similar atmosphere to the classic basketball home games, and that was phenomenal. There’s no doubt the volleyball teams will be there and making a lot of noise as they have a bye this week. Hopefully the rest of the community comes out and can help recreate the atmosphere the former Bobcat teams played in back in the day.
PATS ON THE BACK
Special shoutout to former Brandon Wheat King Ryan Pulock, who was named the American Hockey League’s player of the week. The six-foot-two, 215-pound defenceman had three goals, a trio of assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-6 while helping the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to four consecutive wins against Atlantic Division opponents.
Also congratulations to Brandonite Zach Whitecloud on being named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s rookie of the week. The six-foot-two, 203-pound defencemen had two goals and two assists while helping the Bemidji State Beavers clinch the conference’s regular-season title with a 19-5-2-2 record.
And a pat of the back to former Brandonite Mike McEwen and his curling team, which won its second straight provincial men’s title. After coming up short for so many years, it appears that winning was the tonic that was needed for McEwen, B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld as they played well and more relaxed all week at the Viterra Championship in Portage la Prairie and should represent the province well at the Tim Hortons Brier in March in St. John’s.
Well done to Darren Galatiuk and the rest of the organizing committee for the A&W Tournament of Championship hockey event that was put on here during the last two weekends. It can not have been easy to prepare and run an event that features over 80 teams in eight divisions, uses six arenas in three communities and runs over the course of two weekends, but it sounds like it ran without a hitch.