The J.L. Crowe Track and Field team turned rust into gold at the BC High School Track and Field Championships last week in Langley.
J. L. Crowe Grade 8 middle-distance runner Jaxson Kuchar raced to the top of the podium in the 800-metre run to capture the team’s first gold medal in almost three decades.
Jaxson’s proud parents, along with family and friends, watched the race from their home in Trail as it streamed online.
“I was screaming at that computer,” said Jaxson’s father Chris Kuchar. “We were all gathered around that laptop and just rooting for him. I think I lost my voice, I was screaming so loud. It was so great.”
Crowe has been without a track team for about 15 years, but thanks to former Crowe track athletes, Kylie Lakevold, Dan Horan and Vic Bobbitt, as well as teacher-coach Colin Adamson, the team was revived this year.
“This is all due to (coach) Kylie Lakevold – a past JL Crowe graduate that competed in the heptathlon and who moved back from Calgary and is now coaching the Trail Track team with Dan Horan and started this up,” said Adamson. “There is a really good group of athletes that are very dedicated and keen to compete, improve and become better.”
Considering Trail’s illustrious track record, Lakevold was surprised to find there was no track and field team at Crowe when she returned to the Silver City last July.
“I am so proud of what we were able to build in a very short amount of time,” said Lakevold. “With the support of Dan Horan, Sarah Joyce and several other parents, we were able to pitch the idea of reinstating a track and field team at J.L. Crowe and, thankfully, Colin Adamson stepped up and agreed to be our teacher sponsor.
“We have also had incredible support from Donna Hebert, the J.L. Crowe athletic director and we can’t thank her enough for providing us with facilities to train in and believing in us as a team.”
Nine Crowe athletes competed at the provincials after 10 qualified with top finishes at the regionals in Cranbrook earlier this month, including Sadie Joyce, Madison Lakevold, Zoe Gilles, Darrin De Jager, Wyatt Smith, Ashton Carr, Annika Ford, Kuchar and Connor Nagle. The Crowe team also picked up Finn Klinghorn from Rossland and Kai Conner, a Grand Forks athlete.
“We started training as a high school team in February and I think it is incredible that 10 out of 13 J.L. Crowe team members qualified for a spot in the provincial meet,” said Lakevold.
The team’s results at the regionals were impressive, but their expectations for provincials somewhat tempered. Even Kuchar, who won the 400-m, 800-m, and 1,500-m at regionals, was surprised at his results.
“I think he was a little bit shocked,” said Chris. “Because he just took up track and field at Crowe this season and got into it.”
On Thursday Jaxson raced in the 1,500-m run where he finished in ninth place in a time of 4:43.62. Yet, the race gave him confidence as he knocked 17 seconds off his regional time and improved on his 21st place ranking.
“He was saying before hand that he thought the 800 would be his strongest,” said Chris.
On Saturday morning, Jaxson clocked the fastest time in the preliminary field of 24 runners with a time of 2:14.49 to make his way into the 800-m final. Then in the evening finale, early in the race, as the runner’s jostled for position, one runner tripped up, but Jaxson stayed focused, running with the pack for much of the race, waiting to make his move.
“His strategy was to stick with the pack and then that final 200, he saved up, he had his reserves and then he just put the pedal to the metal and pulled off that win.”
Kuchar finished in 2:13.65 to earn the gold, beating out South Delta runner Jackson Mccubbin by almost a second, and Ashton Takhar of Fulton who won bronze.
The victory qualifies Kuchar to compete for the Kootenay region in the B.C. Summer Games in Cowichan Lake in July.
Crowe’s Sadie Joyce also had an excellent meet just missing the podium with a fourth-place finish in the high jump, ninth in the 100-m and 12th in long jump.
For coach Lakevold, the experience of rebooting the Crowe track team was a rewarding one, and if the same dedication of the athletes and coaches continues, the future looks bright for Crowe track and field.
“Our team is new and many of them have never competed at a provincial level until this year,” said Lakevold. “It can be a very intimidating experience, but our kids were up to the task and we cant wait to watch these young kids develop their talents with our team.
“We hope that this meet inspired these kids to continue with the sport and we know they left the meet with life-long memories.”
Connor Nagle placed 11th in long jump and 16th in high jump.
Madison Lakevold: triple jump, 22nd. Long jump, 28th.
Zoe Gilles: 300m hurdles, 30th.
Darrin De Jager: javelin, 27th
Wyatt Smith: 3,000-m run, 25th
Annika Ford: hammer throw, 17th