A pair of provincial championship banners were raised at Vincent Massey High School on Wednesday, and Jason Jones would love to add a third one from the track and field championships, which run today through Saturday in Winnipeg.
Massey, which celebrated its urban boys’ soccer and baseball championships yesterday, is sending 47 athletes to provincials, the largest of any school. Jones, the Vikings’ coach, believes he has many who can compete for medals and that Massey may be able to win an overall team title in the process.
"The banners are really tough to come by and Sisler and them have done really well, so maybe with such a big team and a lot of good athletes this year we’ll see how our results go and we might get lucky with a banner this year," he said.
Jones has high expectations for all of Massey’s 4x100-metre relay teams, as he believes a medal in the junior varsity and varsity girls’ and boys’ events are possible. Jones is also looking at the likes of Cassidy Obijiaku, who won four gold medals in the city championships, to step up as well as junior varsity sprinters Mack Adams and Tyler Rowan and varsity boys’ shot putter Steven Gresl.
Obijiaku will compete in the varsity boys’ long jump, triple jump and 100m race at provincials.
Another favourite is Charlot Butler, who will be in the junior varsity girls’ 100m, 200m and long jump events.
"Charlot Butler is looking good in the 200," Jones said. "She is ranked number one or two in the 100 or 200.
"She’s in her first year, so it will be quite the learning curve for her to go through the heats and then semis and finals. Plus she’s doing long jump and she looks good for that. She’s quite the little athlete, so we’ll see what happens."
Neelin will also send 13 athletes to provincials, while Crocus Plains has three. Numerous rural Westman schools are sending teams as well, including the Neepawa Tigers who will have a contingent of 22 athletes.
Jones believes provincials will be a good learning experience for his team. Of his 47 athletes, 25 are in grades 9 or 10, which has him excited about the future. He also knows that it could be an exhausting couple days even if people aren’t running, jumping or throwing for a long time.
"I was talking to Cassidy Obijiaku and said you might run a total of 58 seconds and you’ve had to work so hard just to run," Jones said. "Most of his races are 11 or 12 seconds long. He does so much training, but it takes so much out of you to do a hard sprint and people don’t realize how much goes into it.
"I’m excited. I’m really excited about track in the city of Brandon. Neelin’s doing well with its team and Crocus is the same."