A team of 20 athletes from Quesnel’s Special Olympic program put on a top-notch performance at the Okanagan Valley Challenge track and field meet in Kelowna this weekend (June 22-23).
The team has always been strong, and some new faces show it has a fabulous future ahead. For three of the athletes, it was their first Special Olympics track meet, and half the team was under 20 years old.
One example of a young athlete showing incredible promise is 13-year-old Aleena Klotz.
In her first meet last year, she won first-place ribbons in all four of her events.
This year, she finished first in the 100m, 200m and mini-javelin and second in shot put.
Head coach Rick Prosk was very impressed.
“Even more surprising was that she ran the 100m in the morning as a divisioning race and won, so she was bumped up a division to run in the top female division, and she won that race too, in a [personal best] time of 17.99 seconds.”
Also showing up to wow was 10-year-old Daniel Tilsner.
His coach says the young athlete decided a few weeks back that he wanted to run the 5000m because his teammate Brock Terlesky was doing it, and Daniel wanted to emulate him.
“So Daniel ran the 5K a few times, and his entry time was 29 minutes.
“Brock wasn’t able to go to the Kelowna meet, so Daniel and Cory were the two Quesnel entries in the 5K, along with a Kelowna runner.
“Daniel led the race from start to finish, ending with a time of 24:03.18.”
Unsurprisingly Riley Foster had a strong season. Along with Terlesky, he is one of the top athletes the program has.
At a big meet in Burnaby two weeks prior, Foster had the top long jump (4.54m), the top shot put (10.64m) and one of the top javelin throws (20.14m) to finish with three first-place ribbons.
In Kelowna, he won the 100m (12.90s) and the mini-javelin (21.29m) and has yet to hear back on the official shot put result.
Matthew Hender has also had a memorable season.
He is 15 years old, and in Burnaby, he had the second-longest javelin throw in the competition (25.07m), while in Kelowna, he had the farthest long jump (4.39m).
All three rookies won ribbons for their efforts too.
Twelve-year-old Dakota Blaich won second in 200m (37.27s, PB), third in the long jump (2.70m, PB), and third in javelin (6.67m).
Twelve-year-old Chad Harder finished first in the javelin (15.48m), which is a huge distance for his age, and second in shot put (5.54m).
Ten-year-old Noah Petersen finished first in long jump (2.88m), second in 100m (16.46s) and second in javelin (10.29m), which is also quite impressive for his age.