Hay River was extremely well-represented at a recent identification camp held by Athletics NWT as part of the selection process for the upcoming Western Canada Summer Games.
There were eight young athletes from Hay River – no less than a third of the 24 participants in the camp.
“I’m not surprised, because most of the competitive athletes come from Hay River,” said Norman Wells’ Harry Cassie, the president of Athletics NWT.
Cassie said that is probably because the community hosts the NWT Track and Field Championships each year.
The young athletes were invited to the camp based on the results of the previous NWT championships.
And, the NWT’s track and field team for the Western Canada Summer Games – 12 males and 12 females – will be selected after the championships in June.
Hay River’s Reegan Jungkind – a 16-year-old shot put and discus thrower– was excited to get an invitation to the Yellowknife camp, held on the Jan. 19 and 20 weekend.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I was very surprised that they would have picked a thrower,” she said, explaining not many NWT female throwers were picked in the past for the Western Canada Summer Games and Canada Summer Games because their distances were not competitive compared to the South.
However, there were three female throwers at the camp in Yellowknife, she noted.
“That’s almost unheard of in past participation in the Northwest Territories.”
Jungkind said the athletes were encouraged to be dedicated to track and field.
“They understand that we do other sports, but track and field has to be number one priority after school and stuff like that,” she said.
Jungkind is hoping to make the team for the Western Canada Summer Games, which will be held in August in Swift Current, Sask.
“It’s a huge competition and I’m very excited to hopefully be able to go if given the opportunity,” she said.
Jenna Demarcke, 14, was another Hay River athlete at the Yellowknife camp, specifically for the 400 metre and the triple jump.
“I was really excited,” she said of being invited to the camp.
However, she was also a bit surprised because of her young age, explaining the age limit is 21 for the Western Canada Summer Games.
“If I end up going, by the games I’ll be 15,” she said.
Demarcke noted she worked on jumping techniques and did lots of racing at the camp.
“I really hope I make the team,” she said. “It would be awesome.”
Along with Demarcke and Jungkind, the other Hay River athletes at the camp were Dane Dupuis, Chandelle Leonard, Bryce Smith, Zack Horton, Jacqueline Larocque and Madison McPhee.
Cassie was impressed with all the athletes.
“I was very pleased in terms of the mindset, the enthusiasm and the motivation of these kids,” he said.
The camp featured guest coaches from the Edmonton Columbians Track and Field Club.
Cassie noted that athletes not invited to the camp still have an opportunity to be considered for the Western Canada Summer Games.
“So the gate is open for other athletes, as well, to express their interest,” he said, adding it all depends on how athletes perform in terms of meeting the standards in the various sports.