Lacombe Composite High School is ramming its way into this weekend’s Provincial Track and Field 4A Championships.
After sending 33 kids to Zones, the Rams have qualified 20 athletes to compete — something that is the culmination of year-round effort according to Track Coach Jason Petrie.
“We do a lot of work,” he said. “Track and field for us isn’t just a ‘show up and do’ or a tack on at the end of the year. It is something we train for all year.”
While league rules prohibit the track team from practicing year round, Lacombe Composite has developed other programs that feed into track — including their cross-country team which has become one of the best in the province.
Petrie said most of their track athletes are multi-sport athletes.
“As soon as we can get going with track practices in the winter time — we get going,” he said. “That is the only way we can compete as the smallest 4A school in the province.”
The Rams weren’t always a dynamo small-school program with the track team failing to field a team back in 2001 when Petrie joined the school’s faculty.
“In 2002, I started working on track really hard and over time we have added some excellent people to the mix,” he said. “We don’t have a track and we don’t have jumping pits, but we still do well. We travel to train in Red Deer two to three times per week. We are now on average taking 16 to 20 kids to provincials, so we have been growing and we have been strong.
“When we were a 3A school, we were a Top 5 3A school and since 2010 we have been really good. Now that we are a 4A school, being in the Top 10 is a big thing for us.”
Petrie said track is the best sport an athlete can do to succeed in other sports.
“Every athlete wants to run faster, jump higher or go further,” he said.
“Those are all things that every athlete aspires to have. Track is a bit like cross-fit. Training is your sport and you are also training for other sports while you are doing it.”
Petrie said he and his staff are proud of the work put in by the Rams track team this year.
“We have some exceptional athletes on our team but we also have some exceptional kids — really good people,” he said. “We do a lot of Saturday training and we do a lot of weekend throw sections.
“When kids are showing up and wanting to do extra work, that matters and it means a lot.”
While Petrie is hoping for some individual and team successes this weekend, ultimately track and field is about developing young adults for his coaching staff.
“They are playing sports for their life and their future and track develops them as they mature and become adults,” he said. “What I like about track is that kids are working the personal side — a lot of mental toughness.”