Poised for the podium

Ryan Cooke
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Cougars among large Colchester contingent gearing up for provincial track meet

TRURO – “How is it raining and warm right now?” a runner called from the starting line, clearly more concerned with the puzzling weather than the practice going on around him.

Rain had begun to fall from the clear sky, with humidity levels pushing stickiness on the kids during their final training session.

This morning they’ll be heading off to Cape Breton for the Nova Scotia School Federation Provincial Track and Field Championships – a weekend meet they’ve been gearing up for over the last few months.

“I’m pretty excited but I’m kind of nervous,” said Ally Fanning, a senior captain of the track team.

Fanning shouldn’t have much to worry about, as she shredded the competition at both districts and regionals, finishing at the top of each hurdles heat. After a disappointing performance last year, not reaching the finals in 80-metre hurdles, she’s looking to rebound hard this season.

With plans to medal in the 4x100 and 4x400 team events, Fanning has a goal of her own to focus on as well.

“Definitely for my main race, the hurdles, I would love to podium,” she said. “I’d love to win that one for myself.”

Perhaps out of nervousness, or genuine confidence, the CEC Cougars kept things light during Wednesday’s practice. Top runners like Mike Van der Pool and Charlie Hunter had the day off from CEC, practicing instead at St. Mary’s University for the Huskies. Madison Munro, a favourite to win the girls’ javelin event, was taking a day off to rest a tweaked injury.

Taking the forefront instead were athletes like Stefan Scholte, ordering around photographers before sprinting down the track with a smile on his face.

“Hey camera guy! Get ready, we’re coming!”

With the top eight from each event at regionals booking a spot in the provincials, Colchester County high schools will be well represented in the provincial meet. CEC managed to notch more than 100 top-eights, while South Colchester Academy picked up 66 and North Colchester placed seven athletes.

Having a solid contingent of athletes who can run several events is a big key for the Cougars, said track coach Tom Schreve.

“Based on their performance in regionals and how many athletes we qualified, our senior boys should really have a good chance to bring home a banner.”

Rooting her team on along the way will be Fanning.

“I try my best to go around to all them and cheer them on,” she said, noting how tough it is with so many athletes and events. “I want to get the school spirit going this weekend, and spread the orange and blue around a bit.”

For the sake of school spirit, Fanning and the Cougars are hoping the rain holds off in Sydney. Not for performance reasons, however, but for something else.

“I’ll probably be bringing the face paint along,” she said with a wide smile.

Organizations: University for the Huskies, South Colchester Academy

Geographic location: Colchester County, Cape Breton, Mary Sydney

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