New Westminster's Ben Tjernagel (centre) out kicks Quinn Litherland (right) of St. George's to win 200m senior boys final Saturday at the Subway BC High School Track and Field championships. (Varsity Letters photo by Wilson Wong/UBC athletics)
Feature High School Track & Field

Hyacks’ Big Ben turns silver streak into golden gallop, Tjernagel medals twice in sprints

LANGLEY — Ben Tjernagel is pretty fast, and it seems, pretty fast at shaking off a heartbreaking loss.

One day after having to settle for silver by 1/100th of a second in his quest to win the coveted title of B.C.’s fastest schoolboy in the 100m sprint, the New Westminster Hyacks senior came right back to some gold of his own at the 50th Subway B.C. High School Track and Field championships, Saturday at McLeod Athletic Park.

Tjernagel, the Trinity Western-bound sprinter, started strong and finished the same way en route to winning the 200m in a time of 21.86 seconds, foiling the repeat attempt of defending champion Quinn Litherland (21.95) of Vancouver’s St. George’s School.

Kevin Hughes of Langley Secondary took bronze in 22.62 seconds.

“After the 100m on Friday, this one feels pretty good,” admitted Tjernagel, whose 10.82 seconds was just a micro-stride behind that of Vancouver College’s Anastas Eliopoulos, who finished first at 10.81 seconds and was later named the meet’s Most Inspirational Athlete.

“I just told myself (Friday) that I had to focus on what’s next and not what’s in the past,” said Tjernagel, whose older sister Raquel won three 200m gold medals and a pair of 100m golds to boot over her Hyacks senior provincial meet career (2013-15) before heading off to sprint for the Texas Longhorns.

Now, a collegiate career as a U Sports sprinter lies ahead for Tjernagel, who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Coquitlam Cheetahs standout Nathan George, the Centennial standout who won both the 200m and 400 finals his senior year, and this season, won U Sports national indoor gold at 300m.

“My sister has been such an inspiration to me, so to see the things she did, it was like ‘Man, I want to do something that, too,’” Tjernagel explained.

And Tjernagel likes to think that his university sport of choice got a big helping hand from his other athletic passion: football.

This past season, he excelled in all three phases of play in helping the Hyacks get to the Subway Bowl Triple A semifinals and earn the nod as a provincial all-star.

“Running track really helped me with my speed in football,” says Tjernagel, who in 10 games accumulated 588 yards and scored four touchdowns through the air, on the ground, via the pick, and on both punt and kick-off return teams.

“And I think what football gave me for track is it taught me how to compete.”

A football Final Four, and both gold and silver medals in the 100m and 200m sprints.

New Westminster’s Ben Tjernagel not only took the ball, he ran with it.

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