LANGLEY — My top three takeaways from Day 2 Friday at the Subway B.C. High School Track and Field championships, with huge thanks to a dear friend of Varsity Letters, photographer Wilson Wong, who helps bring these vignettes to life:
SPEED TO BURN
1. You can’t help but be bowled over by the flat-out speed he has on the track and the overall zest for life he has off it.
In the meet’s marquee senior boys’ fast lane, the first two days of competition have belonged to Anastas Eliopoulos, the Vancouver College Fighting Irish senior hurdler and sprinter.
On Friday, the days events were capped by the Irish’s fleet 42.55 seconds first-place finish in the 4×100-metre relay, an event in which Eliopoulos ran the anchor leg.
The time beat the 22-year-old meet record of 42.59 seconds set by Maple Ridge in heats back in 1995.
However it was only the second fastest time because Eliopoulos and the Irish set the B.C. record Thursday in their own heats, in a time of 42.14
But that was far from the extent of the UBC-bound Eliopoulos’ golden ways on Friday.
He opened the day with a 13.62-seconds performance in the 110-metre hurdles, a meet record as this is the first year of the new 36-inch hurdles.
The record on 39-inch hurdles was set in 1982 by Handsworth’s David Wilkinson, who finished in a time of 14.2 seconds. Eliopoulos has a PB on 39-inch hurdles of 13.75 seconds.
Then later in the day, he out-duelled New Westminster’s Ben Tjernagel to win the 100-metres final, becoming the first Irish sprinter to win the much-balloyhooed title of B.C.’s fastest boy in exactly 40 years.
Gordon Bettiol won the 100m in 1977 in a time of 11.19 seconds.
In a near-photo finish, Eliopoulos crossed the finish line in a personal best 10.81 seconds, while Tjernagel finished in 10.82 seconds.
It was the fastest boys 100m senior finish since Keynan Parker ran 10.67 as a St. Thomas More Knights senior in 2008.
“It all feels indescribable,” said Eliopoulos. “I ran a very good time in the hurdles, faster than I have ever done before. And the 100 metres? I didn’t think I had it in me to go 10.8. Actually I thought I had lost to Ben.”
And what kind of race did Tjernagel give Eliopoulos?
“He is an unreal sprinter,” Eliopoulos said. “Truly great. He is going to Trinity Western next year and I am sure they are giving him a very good scholarship.”
Quad-gold weekends are indeed rarities here at the B.C. high school meet.
Eliopoulos can get that done with a win in the 200 metres when the meet continues Saturday.
“It’s not really much my event,” he said. “Not like the hurdles and the 100. I just want to break 22 (seconds), go 21.9. But this track is very fast, so maybe there’s a 21-mid.”
2. A TORCH-PASSING BETWEEN HISTORIC HURDLERS
It’s the 50th anniversary of the championships this year, and to that end, a lot of really famous past competitors are strolling around McLeod Athletic Park this weekend.
And in an act of serendipity, one of them was chosen as a presenter to a young lady who not only won her former specialty event, but broke her 36-year-old record in the process.
Surrey Grade 11 hurdling flash Katarina Vlahovic of the Fraser Heights Firehawks was a decisive winner, finishing in a time of 13.97 seconds.
Presenting her with the award was none other than Connie Polman Tuin of Powell River’s Max Cameron Secondary, and later an Olympian. She set the record on the current 33-inch hurdles in 1981 in a time of 14.1 seconds.
“It was kind of like she was passing the baton to me,” said Vlahovic afterwards. “It means so much to me because I have been training for this for so long. I kept this record (sub-14 seconds) as a goal for myself all season. I wanted a title, and the heats didn’t go so well with a strong head wind, so today I told myself that I had to be aggressive.”
The sprint hurdles for senior girls have an interesting history.
The 33-inch hurdles have been used for all but a six-year span of consecutive meets. From 1997-99, the event was shortened to 80 metres, and from 2000-02 they returned to 100 metres but lowered to a 30-inch height.
The 33-inch high variety returned in 2003 and has been used ever since.
Interestingly enough, Friday’s second-place finisher Hana Tyndall of Coquitlam’s Gleneagle Secondary ran a 14.51, and that time would have been good enough to win 11 of the previous 13 races.
Last season’s winner, New Westminster’s Nina Schultz, won in a time of 13.67 but it came with a 3.5 tailwind.
3. YOUNG AND RESTLESS
Friday was a double-medal day for Jasneet Nijjar, but not in the kind of pairing you will typically see, especially at the senior varsity level.
“I was a little tired from running in that 100 metre final,” said Nijjar, a Grade 10 from Surrey’s Queen Elizabeth Secondary. “But I just wanted to win this race.”
“This race” was in fact the 400 metres, and with such a small amount of turnaround between the two, it was a show of incredible stamina that allowed her to edge talented senior Jessica Williams of Semiahmoo Secondary in an all-Surrey battle to the finish line.
Nijjar, who came in with a PB of 57.2 seconds, ran a 55.36 to beat the UBC-bound Williams, who clocked a 55.46.
Only about a half hour earlier, Nijjar ran the 100 metres in 12.14 seconds to take the bronze medal behind Nanaimo-Wellington’s Hassy Fashina-Bombata (12.07) and Georgia Lam of Richmond-Matthew McNair (12.13).
FRIDAY’S OTHER TOP HEADLINES
Camryn Rogers of Richmond’s R.A. McMath continues to set her own bar in the hammer throw.
Rogers broke her own B.C. championship meet record of 59.15 metres set last season, with a new best of 60.49 metres.
In other gold-medal winning efforts on the senior girls side Friday:
*Kelowna’s Bryn Walsh won the pole vault at 2.95 metres.
*Desirae Ridenour of Duncan’s Cowichan Secondary went 4:29.55 to win the 1,500 metres.
*Grace Fetherstonhaugh of the New Westminster Hyacks won the 1,500 metre steeplechase in 4:54.81, four seconds under the B.C. meet record.
*Semiahmoo’s Alexa Porpaczy won the high jump at 1.80 metres. The B.C. record of 1.82 metres was set in 2008 by Alyx Treasure of Prince George’s DP Todd.
On the boys side:
Quinn Litherland of St. George’s took home gold in the 400 metres, winning in a time of 47.85 seconds.
*Charlie Dannatt (3:57.52) of North Vancouver-Handsworth out-kicked Oak Bay’s Tyler Dozzi (3:59.02) to win a highly-anticpated 1,500 metre duel.
*Zach Wyatt of Langley-R.E, Mountain went 6:00.75 to win the 2,000m steeplechase.
*Roberto Esquival of North Vancouver-Windsor was golden in the triple-jump at 13.95 metres.
In the discus, Abbotsford-W.J. Mouat’s Vikramjit Gondara threw 47.64 metres to capture gold.