NANAIMO – It's early in the 2019 season, but athletes with the Nanaimo Track and Field Club are putting in the work now to achieve positive results at some of the big events later in the year.
The most prominent athlete associated with the club right now is high jumper Mike Mason.
Already this season the 32-year-old from Nanoose Bay has recorded the best result in the world clearing 2.31 metres at a meet in California on April 5.
The vast majority of athletes at the Nanaimo Club are junior high and high school age and some haven't had their first taste of competition yet.
Middle distance runner Keaton Heisterman has been at two events already and the Grade 11 student has posted a pair of personal bests.
He ran the 1500m at UBC in a time of 3.59.45 and set another PB at the Arcadia Invitational in California with a time of 1.55.54.
In 2019 Heisterman thinks he can shave those times down even further.
"By the end of the season I'm hoping to get down to 1.51 or 1.52 in the 800m and 3.53 or 3.54 in the 1500m," explained Heisterman. I'm planning on going in a 400m or a 3000m at some point but my specialty is the eight and fifteen so I like to keep my training focused on that."
Heisterman, who attends Brentwood College School, is heading to the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa California this weekend.
He's also looking forward to the BC High School Track and Field Championships at the end of May in Kelowna.
BC High Schools is a highlight event for most athletes at the Nanaimo Track and Field Club as well as the North Island Championship in Powell River next week and the Island Championship in Victoria in the middle of May.
That includes Grade 12 NDSS student Makayla Mitchell whose main events are javelin, other throwing events, triple jump, and long jump.
Mitchell hasn't competed yet this year but her training schedule is well underway with sessions on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
She has a bronze medal in javelin to her name at the BC High School level and has also medaled in triple jump.
Mitchell has made a number of important relationships through the club and hopes to keep progressing in track and field beyond high school.
"I hope to continue it because I really like the community of people and it's a great way to keep active," said Mitchell. "I hope that I can become part of a team at university, but I'm trying to think academics first and sports second."
She's also found ways to give back to the local track and field community.
"I've become a coach and coached the younger athletes. The little kids after they get a new PB they running up to you and they're so excited with how they did, they don't even care what place they got. It's so awesome to see," Mitchell said.
Makayla is also a licensed official and club spokesman Phillip Vannini hails Mitchell as an example of both leadership and sportsmanship.
In 2019 the Nanaimo Track and Field Club has approximately 60 high school age members.
That's a large increase from years past.
One of the important dates for the club is Nanaimo's Elwood Wylie Memorial Meet in late May.
It's a chance for local elite athletes to shine, and work towards recording a new personal best.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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