McMath Wildcats are poised to make some noise at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships in Langley this week, but coach Bob Riddell is tempering the volume just a little.
Riddell cautions that the provincials “can be really overwhelming and intimidating for students going for the first time.”
“When you are in against the best you have to have a different mindset,” he explains. “It is never automatic for a young competitor.”
Next year was supposed to be the year for the Wildcats. When the Grade 11s, the core strength of the team, would be Grade 12s. But someone forgot to tell them.
Going into the B.C.’s, McMath has a lengthy list of medal candidates, starting with Liam McLeod who raced in the prestigious Oregon Relays this spring, and Carson Bradley who is nationally ranked in the 200 and 400 metres. Riddell even finds himself shaking his head at their talent.
“Just being trackside is an experience, how fast they can run. It has to rub off on the other students,” he says.
Riddell doesn’t discount the contributions of past Wildcats either. He says the Loewens, Cathcarts and Higashitanis, who were also members of the Richmond Kajaks, helped establish a tradition of excellence. He says the elementary schools (Homma, Dixon, Westwind, Diefenbaker, Byng and Steves) that feed McMath also established a positive track and field culture.
“It is a big commitment for the school coaches, and for some a really hard slog to get their athletes out. Fred Chiang and Peter Thackwray at MacNeill really took the district program on their shoulders and made it work. MacNeill is developing super junior and Grade 8 teams.”
In addition to McMath’s Alicia Lo, a medal possibility in the triple jump, Burnett’s Eric Che looks to overcome an early-season injury in the long jump.