It's been an exceptional year for Cochrane athletes in high school track and field, especially when you consider we're a community of over 34,000 people without a proper track.
The athletes of Cochrane High, Bow Valley, and St. Timothy's have battled through the hiccups caused by the smoke hazard to rise to the podium multiple times at their respective divisional and zone finals. Many others recorded personal bests, which is the aspiration of all these emerging talents.
Between three schools, nearly 50 have advanced to the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association (ASAA) provincials that are now underway in Edmonton.
Standing out is the massive Cochrane High Cobras team of 42 athletes. That tops all schools in the province on the performance list.
They ran away with both the divisional and zone team banners. In zones, they amassed a whomping 765.66 points, the most ever, and finished 457.66 points higher than second place George McDougall High, of Airdrie.
"We have 42 kids and 53 events," says Cobras head coach Esther Sieben. "It's the strongest showing we've ever had at provincials and we have had to hire our own chartered bus.
"The City of Calgary charters two buses and all the city kids go in them and they pick up them up from all the schools. We need our own 56-passenger bus, so I find that kind of funny."
The Cobras bus departed yesterday shortly after three, but not before receiving a surprise gift of a Cobras logoed backpack from Tim Beach of Charlesglen Toyota.
"This team has been incredible this year," says Beach. "My two daughters are on it, so it's exciting. I talked to Esther (Sieben) and asked how we could help. She said they'd love a backpack, and that's how this all came about."
The Bow Valley High track team has been growing as more and more of the school's athletes buy into the program. In the zone team standings, they placed a respectful fifth in a field where a mere 50 points separated second from fifth.
Five of their athletes qualified for the provincials and four are competing in Edmonton.
"We're hoping that we can keep building the program and keep getting more kids out," says head coach Jill MacEachen. "We've had success in doing that and their dedication has really paid off, which I think will help over the next few years."
Travis Cummings, head coach of the St. Timothy High team, whose team competes in the Calgary zone, says the school's record book was almost completely rewritten this season, and they have a promising young crop of athletes.
Two of their athletes have advanced to the provincials after stellar performances in Calgary's zone final.
"For the most part, all of our athletes qualified through to zones. We have two of them going to provincials and both of them will have a really good chance to medal. I'm happy with how the season has gone, and I'm excited to see how they'll do on the weekend."
While the high school is wrapping up, the club season is about to go full tilt. Many Cochrane athletes trained with the Cochrane Endurance Project as well as clubs in Calgary.