By John DeCoste
Ben Brown tuned up for the national wheelchair athletics championships with a trio of first-place finishes at a track meet held June 16 at Acadia.
Brown, a Weston native, won the 100-metre, 200-metre and 400-metre wheelchair races, and while he didn’t meet his goal of achieving the national standard in the 200, coach Ueli Albert says he’s well-positioned for nationals.
Albert, an Acadia professor and head coach of the national wheelchair athletics team, organized the meet and termed it a success, especially for a first try.
“I was pleased with the numbers, and especially with the performances,” he said, noting that a total of 45 athletes had registered for the meet, originating from Halifax, the South Shore and here in the Valley.
Due to a slight delay with the completion of the throwing venues, the throwing events were held at Port Williams, but Albert noted the throwing areas at Acadia are now completed and will be available for future competitions.
Albert shared Brown’s disappointment at not achieving the national standard in the 200-metres – he had to race 33.8 seconds to qualify, and ended up at 36.88.
“The Acadia track is not nearly the fastest around” for the purposes of trying to achieve national standards in wheelchair events, Albert said. “It’s a good surface, but soft, which is great for the runners but not nearly so good for wheelchairs.”
As it was, Brown won the 100-metres in a time of 19.60, ahead of Valley Athletics teammates Steven Kendall at 21.77 and Liam Kenneally at 22.07.
In the 200, Brown raced 36.88, Kendall 40.57 and Kenneally 42.57. In the 400, Brown finished in1:21.76 and Kenneally in 1:23.71. Kenneally raced 5:56.88 to win the 800 metres, in which Brown and Kendall did not compete.
Albert noted “a spirited training completion” has developed among Brown, Kendall and Kenneally, which “is challenging all three” and making all of them better.
Brown and Kendall, he said, “tend to be better in the sprints,” while Kenneally is proving better at the longer distances.
Other Valley results at the meet included a third-place finish for Meaghan Vaughan of Kentville in the women’s 800-metres.
In the men’s 400 metres, Colin Hassell, a local runner competing unattached, was first, with Neil Robertson of Valley Athletics second.
In the men’s 200-metres, Hassell was third and Robertson fourth. In the 100-metres, Hassell placed fourth and Robertson fifth. Hassell was also second in the long jump, while Ryan Fuller placed second in the 1,500 metres.
The throwing portion of the meet, held June 17 at the Launch Pad in Port Williams, also doubled as the second installment of the JumpStart throwing series.
As had been the case in the first series meet the previous weekend, provincial records continued to fall.
Drew Erskine of Truro continued a record-breaking season, breaking his own record in midget boys’ hammer with a 55.30 metre throw to place first in his division. Erskine had set the previous record of 54.72 just seven days before.
Sarah Colborne of Truro also broke her own youth discus record (also set the previous week) with a throw of 41.14 metres (her old record was 41.02).
Elizabeth MacDonald of Halifax broke the old senior women’s hammer record (50.47 metres, set last year) with a best result Sunday of 50.57 metres.
David Bambrick of Gaspereau set a new provincial Para Shot Put record with a throw of 10.91 metres, breaking the old record of 10.63 also set in 2011.
After two series meets, Erskine continues to lead the series standings with 1,743 points, followed by Peter Millman (1,688), Taylor Stutely (1,573), Gregory McCarthy (1,522) and Elizabeth MacDonald (1,512).
The next meet of the JumpStart series is scheduled for July 7 in Port Williams.