Spartans treated like royalty at Nike athletics showcase event

Dave Kearsey
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TORONTO, ONT.  — Being treated like elite athletes by Nike officials was enough to tell Andrew Patten he wants more out of track and field.

Patten, a 16-year-old Level 2 student, was one of 13 track and field athletes from Stephenville High School afforded an opportunity to test his mettle against the country’s best high school track stars at the 2014 Nike Grand Prix in Toronto over the weekend.

A national showcase of high school athletics in Canada, over 300 students from 12 provinces and territories converged on the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre for an event designed to bring them together in competition, celebration and team pride.

“This was my first track event that I’ve ever done and I got to say it was a really good way to kick it off,” Patten said from Toronto Sunday. “It really got me excited to keep going with track and field. The environment here was crazy. I loved the track it was amazing. The whole experience was actually fantastic.”

Patten participated in the 100-m and 200-m dash as well as the long jump. He was a tad nervous about lining up against some very strong athletes with a few years experience on their side, so he really just wanted to do his best and see what other athletes can do so he could draw comparison.

“At first it made me kind of nervous because it was my first track event and I was competing against some of the best in the country, but after I started warming up to it all it was a great experience and I learned a lot from it,” he said.

While the competition was a lot of fun and he came away with a wealth of knowledge, it was certainly a good time on the social scene as he met other people with common interests and got to check out some of the sights and sounds of the big city. Attending a Toronto Blue Jays game and a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium were itinerary items the Spartans group enjoyed under the watchful eye of coach Rosie Ryan-Forsey.

“This will make me want to stay in track as long as I can be in it. This was a great event,” he said, noting being outfitted with a bunch of Nike gear as an added bonus.

Spartan John St. Croix, who is a 15-year-old Grade 9 student, was told by his sister Rita months ago to be prepared for one of the most exciting ventures of his life.

She wasn’t exaggerating, according St. Croix, who was one of the Spartans attending their first Nike Grand Prix event.

“It was an amazing trip. Definitely the best trip I’ve ever been on for sports,” St. Croix said. “The whole way they treated us. We were elite athletes ... you know really the star treatment. We went into the locker-room and they fitted us out with the new Nike gear. It was held at the University of Toronto on the track and it was the first time seeing a track like that a big facility and they had a nice banquet last night so it was great.”

St. Croix participated in the 1,500-m and 800-m races for his group, but he wasn’t overly worried about his placing fully aware that he was up against some strong athletes two and three years older than him as most of the other teams had a big presence of graduating students in the mix.

“The level of athletes up here was just amazing,” St. Croix said. “It’s hard to compete. But, I was pretty happy with my results.”

He can only hope he gets to do it again some day. But, then again who wouldn’t want to come home decked out in a Nike package that inlcluded, a pair of running shoes, track spikes, a windbreaker, an equipment bag and, of course, what would a trip to Toronto be without a Blue Jays cap.

“It was amazing. I would definitely, in a heartbeat, like to do it again,” St. Croix said.

Coach Ryan-Forsey was pleased to see her athletes achieve a personal best in an event and enjoyed a lot of positive feedback from the Spartans who travelled with her.

“They were wined and dined in beautiful restaurants and they got to go to a Blue Jays game Saturday. Just an amazing experience overall and big motivator of track and field for youth really,” she said.

 

The following is a look at how members of the team fared in Toronto:

Evan Zelau

— 100-m dash

Preliminary 6th Heat 1

Time: 12.61

— 200-m dash

Preliminary 4th Section 2

Time: 26.30

— Boys Long Jump

29th overall

Distance: 4.44 m

 

Kirkland Beanland

— 100-m dash

Preliminary 7th Heat 2

Time: 13.97

 

Andrew Patten

— 100-m dash

Preliminary 6th Heat 3

Time: 13.62

— 200-m dash

Preliminary 8th Section 6

Time: 27.95

— Boys Long Jump

25th overall

Distance: 4.89 m

 

Donovan White

— 200-m dash

Preliminary 2nd Section 2

Time: 24.57

— Boys Long Jump

21st overall

Distance: 5.10 metres

— Boys High Jump

5th overall

Distance: 1.65 m

 

Samuel Watkins

— 200-m dash

Preliminary 7th Section 2

Time: 28.98

— 400-m dash

Preliminary 5th Section 3

Time: 1:04..83

 

George Young

— 400-m dash

Preliminary 1st Section 1

Time: 56.09

— 1,500-m dash

Preliminary 5th Section 2

Time: 4:37.58

 

Ian MacDonald

— 400-m dash

Preliminary 2nd Section 3

Time: 57.30

— 800-m dash

Preliminary 9th Section 3

Time: 2:18.34

 

Andrew Parsons

— 800-m dash

Preliminary 9th Section 1

Time: 2:53.40

 

John St. Croix

— 800-m dash

Preliminary 9th Section 2

Time: 2:20.04

— 1-500-m dash

Preliminary 10th Section 2

Time: 4:53.08

 

Devon Ryan

— 1,500-m dash

Preliminary 12th Section

Time: 5:41.62

 

Jesse Byrne

— 1,500-m dash

Preliminary 9th Section 2

Time: 4:49.73

— Boys High Jump

12th overall

Distance: 1.55 m

— Boys Shot Put

21st overall

Distance: 9.40 m

 

Josh Whalen

— Boys Long Jump

34th overall

Distance: 4.29 m

— Boys High Jump

15th overall

Distance: 1.55 m

 

Matthew Bennett

— Boys Shot Put

25th overall

Distance: 9.00 m

 

 

Organizations: Nike, University of Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays Stephenville High School

Geographic location: Toronto, Canada, Ripley

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