BURNABY — The only way Charlie Dannatt could have predicted the final weekend of his high school track career would have been to answer the question ‘What’s greatest dream finish you could possibly predict for yourself?’
To which he would have fantasized that in the 50th anniversary of the meet that he’d like to win his two favourite races — the 1,500m and 3,000m — set a new B.C. meet record in at least one of them and in the end be named the Top Male Athlete of the Meet.
“I am so ecstatic right now I can’t even put it into words,” the senior from North Vancouver’s Handsworth Secondary said after everything on the aforementioned list became reality for him by mid-afternoon Saturday at McLeod Athletic Park. “I am on top of the world.”
In what amounted to a weekend duel under the sun with Oak Bay Bays’ senior Tyler Dozzi, Dannatt edged his future UBC Thunderbirds teammate in Friday’s 1,500m final (3:57.52-to-3:59.02), then did the same in a most remarkable Saturday running of the 3,000 in which both runners obliterated the 42-year-old record of 8:21.27 set in 1975 by Burnaby South’s John Martens.
Dannatt ran in Dozzi’s immediate shadow for virtually the entire race, breaking free over the stretch drive to win in 8:15.93. Dozzi picked up his second silver medal of the weekend by finishing at 8:16.22
Both runners were a full 27 seconds ahead of the next fastest runner, bronze medallist Jack Stanley of Oak Bay, who clocked a time (8:43.83) which would have won nine of the 18 B.C. meet finals contested at the distance since the turn of the century.
“To be completely honest, I hadn’t had my eyes on the record until just a couple of weeks before the race,” said Dannatt who is the first Handsworth male runner to win any senior running event from 100 metres to 3,000 metres at the provincial high school meet since Olympian Chris Winter capped off back-to-back-to-back steeplechase victories in 2004.
“It just came into the back of my mind that I could and that’s where I kept it,” he continued. “I thought it was a possibility but I was just focusing on the race.”
Dannatt gives full kudos to Dozzi who set the pace which enabled both to break the old record.
“I knew Tyler had his sights set on the record coming in, but I told myself that I was just as fit as anyone, and that if he goes for the record, I’ll just stick right with him. Props to Tyler. He just went out there and gave it his all and it’s so much fun to race against him.”
The wins in the 1,500 and 3,000 were enough for officials to name Dannatt the meet’s Top Male Athlete.
Camryn Rogers, of Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats, was named the Top Female Athlete after winning gold medals in both the hammer throw (60.49 metres) and the discus (13.65 metres).
Rogers’ hammer throw broke her own meet record of 59.15 metres set last season, while her discus throw came up just shy of usurping the 13.93 metres of University Hill’s Joan Pavelich in 1971.
Vancouver College’s Anastas Eliopoulos, who won gold medals in the 110m hurdles (13.63 seconds) and 100m sprint (10.81 seconds), as well as by running the anchor leg of the Irish’s first-place 4x100m relay team (42.14 seconds, heats), was named the meet’s Most Inspirational Performer.
Eliopoulos’ times in the hurdles and 4×100 relay were both new meet records.
Dozzi’s excellence helped Oak Bay win the overall team title, while Vancouver College and Maple Ridge won the respective senior varsity boys and girls team titles. Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers won the overall junior title as well as the boys JV crown, while Langley’s Walnut Grove won JV girls team title.
From Dannatt’s perspective, there have been plenty of inspirational performance over the years in his two speciality events, and he soaked them up as a way to prepare for his moment on Saturday.
“I definitely watched my share of races (at the high school provincials),” said Dannatt. “Nathan Tadesse and Brendan Hoff to name two.”
Interestingly enough, Dannatt became the sixth straight male to win both the senior 1,500m and 3,000m races in the same year at high school provincials, following Christian Gravel (St. George, 2012), Ben Weir (Glenlyon Norfolk, 2013), Nathan Wadhwani (2014, Terry Fox), Tadesse (North Surrey, 2015) and Hoff (Reynolds, 2016).
“I’ve watched and raced against so many and they have inspired me to try to become just like them at this meet.”
Dannatt opened his senior season of high school by finishing fourth at the BC high school cross-country championships in November.
(Varsity Letters’ coverage of the B.C. high school track and field championships will continue throughout the week so stay tuned for much more!)
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