Greater Trail athlete, Jaxon Kuchar, and longtime coach, Dan Horan, took home some hardware from BC Athletics annual awards banquet on Feb. 1.
Jaxon, a Greater Trail track-and-field phenom, took home the U16 Athlete of the Year prize, while Horan was honoured with the Jane Swan Award for committed service to the Junior Development program.
Kuchar captured the gold medal in the steeplechase at the Royal Canadian Legion National Track and Field Championships in Cape Breton, NS in July, capping off an incredible year that also saw him win gold in steeple, silver in 1,200-m, and bronze in 800-m run at the BC Track and Field championship.
“I didn’t see myself doing steeplechase,” said the Grade 10 J. L. Crowe student. “At first I wanted to focus more on the 800-m, and then I tried the steeple and thought, ‘Oh this could be fun.’
“My first race I got a really good time with that and just kept going on. I ended up making Team BC and going to Nationals and ended up winning – it was such an awesome experience.”
What makes the award even more notable is that Jaxon only started competing in athletics two years ago.
“I really started focusing on it in Grade 8 when I won the BC High Schools (Meet) for the 800-m and it’s just become my passion,” said Kuchar, who was also one of three nominees for the U15 Male Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Kuchar will jump up a category to U18 for the upcoming year, but he is looking forward to improving and honing his skills for the upcoming season.
“I like the challenge,” said Jaxon. “When you’re against tougher opponents, you usually get a way faster time than you get if you just led the whole race.”
As for Horan, there are few track organizers and coaches who put in as much time as the Trail Track and Field coach, and none more deserving of the Jane Swan award, voted on by his peers.
“I didn’t vote for me, but I gather someone did,” laughed Horan. “I nominated someone but they didn’t get chosen. But there is a limited number of people who have won the award, so I was quite happy.”
Horan has been on the BC Athletics Junior Development Committee since 2012, but has been coaching young athletes for over 40 years.
Along with his wife Lina, the two have organized and ran track and field meets and other events across the Kootenays, events that would not be possible without their commitment, experience and knowledge.
The Trail native, who turned 70 last month, says he isn’t about to take it any easier either and will continue to coach Trail Track and Field Club for the next year or two.
Jaxon continues to train throughout the winter months in preparation for the upcoming outdoor track and field season and has his goals firmly set for 2020 and beyond.
“My goals for time-based, it’s to break two-minutes in the 200,” added Jaxon. “That was my original goal last year, but then the steeplechase came along and sort of replaced it. In the 1,500-m, I want to get a way faster time than last year … and I can’t wait to do the steeple, because it’s 2,000-meters now.”
“But my big goal is to get a scholarship for track and field and be able to compete at the post-secondary level … and the goal is always to eventually make the Olympics.”
Kuchar also wanted to thank coaches Colin Adamson and Horan for their incredible contributions to athletics in Trail.