VANCOUVER — It’s been 20 years since a B.C. high school boy last breached the senior varsity record books on the track in any of the three speed-power events at the provincial championship meet.
So perhaps it’s fitting that one of the fleetest school boys in North American will close out his high school career next week with a chance to break all three on the occasion of the Subway B.C. High School Track and Field Championship meet’s 50th anniversary.
Yet even if he doesn’t set new meet records, the likelihood remains strong that Vancouver College’s Anastas Eliopoulos will fashion a golden finish to his high school career.
“It would be the icing on the cake to break any record, and to it under the Vancouver College banner would be huge,” Eliopoulos said earlier this week. “I hope to get close enough to break them, but even more than medals, personal bests are what mean the most to me.”
The 100- and 200-metre sprints, while not his specialty races, are both within his grasp to win.
Eliopoulos, however, will garner the most attention when he steps into the blocks at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park for the 110-metre hurdles, an event in which his personal-best 13.75 seconds performance April 16 at the Oregon Relays has made him the best B.C. high schooler ever in the discipline.
His second step past the sub-14 second mark has the 18-year-old ranked No. 1 on the Canadian Under-20 charts. It’s also the 13th fastest time turned in by a high school athlete at an official U.S. meet this season.
“It’s his speed, his general athleticism for the skill of hurdling which is so complex, and his confidence,” says Vancouver College coach Herb Sommerfeld. “If you’re not relaxed, then you’re not going to go fast.”
Yet as primed as Eliopoulos is to break the oldest standing boys track record on the books — Handsworth’s David Wilkinson set the record of 14.1 metres back in 1982 — he won’t officially be able to do it next week.
Because meet officials have decided to lower the official height of the hurdles this season from the traditional 39 inches to 36 inches.
Thus whomever wins the 110-metre hurdles this season, would own the new record, but not officially break the old one.
The change was made to encourage more sprinters to take a run at hurdling, and when you ask Eliopoulos about not being able to have a chance to break Wilkinson’s 45-year record, the maturity of the UBC-bound student-athlete immediately reveals itself.
“The way I see it, it’s not too disappointing,” Eliopoulos said. “Whenever I race in B.C., when it comes to hurdles in club track (he’s a member of the Vancouver Olympic Club and coached by Tatjana Mece), there’s usually only three of four guys in the race.
“If (lowering the height) makes more people want to hurdle, then I am all for it,” added Eliopoulos. “If for one day I have to runs 36s, then I’ll run 36s.”
Next season, when he begins training UBC head coach Laurier Primeau, those hurdles are going to be sitting at 42 inches.
With his sprinting proficiency and hurdling abilities, Eliopoulos could have thrown a wide net over the NCAA track and field world, but when asked why he decided to stay close to home, his reasoning was simple.
“In all honesty, I just looked at the coaches,” he said. “To have someone like Laurier Primeau, with his expertise, particularly in the hurdles? I thought that was something not too easy to come by. So to be able to put myself into that environment, a place where I know I can do well, was a huge part of my decision.”
Prior to donning the blue-and-gold next season at UBC, Eliopoulos is hoping to represent Canada at the Pan Am under-20 championships in Peru.
And of course there is the matter of running three events at next week’s provincial high school meet.
Aside from the 110-metre hurdles, he’ll also attempt to qualify for the finals in the 100- and 200-metres.
Peter Ogilvie set the 100-metre record of 10.46 seconds in 1990 while running for St. Thomas More. Eliopoulos’ PB is 10.96 seconds.
Joel Nelson of Surrey’s Frank Hurt Secondary set the 200-metre record of 21.34 seconds in 1997. Eliopoulos set his latest PB at the distance just two weeks ago at the zone finals in a time of 22.08.
Beyond the high school meet?
“My goal moving forward…” he says with a pause, “it would be to break the Under-20 Canadian record (in the 110-metre hurdles).”
That one sits at 13.43 seconds.
With the way Anastas Eliopoulos is running these days, he’s catching up to some pretty big standards and some very lofty records.
It seems only a matter of time before all of those times are on his side.
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