Nanaimo Track and Field Club athlete Sonya Urbanowicz with her record-setting pole vault, and afterward with coach Sven Donaldson. (Photos courtesy Wanda Urbanowicz)

Nanaimo Track and Field Club athlete Sonya Urbanowicz with her record-setting pole vault, and afterward with coach Sven Donaldson. (Photos courtesy Wanda Urbanowicz)

Nanaimo’s track and field athletes highly ranked

Numerous Nanaimo Track and Field Club members set personal bests in return to competition


New provincial records set and performances ranked as best in the country. Despite the challenges of the past year, it has already been a stellar season for members of the Nanaimo Track and Field Club.

As mentioned last month, the local track club helped athletes persevere with training as much as safely possible during the time of COVID restrictions. And it is a tribute to club athletes and coaches that such dedication was demonstrated. Now, as travel and competition restrictions are being lifted, the results are quickly being shown. My thanks to club director Phillip Vannini for passing along some real success stories.

We’ll start with NTFC club member Sonya Urbanowicz, who competed near the start of this month in New Westminster. There she stole the show by setting new B.C. records in both U18 and U20 pole vault. Urbanowicz vaulted 3.83 metres, beating the previous provincial U18 record of 3.80m set back in 2008. She also bested the previous U20 record of 3.82m.

In June, NTFC athletes hosted four meets at Rotary Bowl. The fourth meet of the series, held at the end of the month, was the first which allowed athletes from other clubs to participate after B.C. Athletic lifted restrictions that had been put in place to limit attendance. So, it was a first chance to jump start inter-club competitions again after the long COVID hiatus.

It was also an opportunity for club athletes to showcase their personal best performances. Incredibly, by the end of June, more than 20 NTFC personal bests were ranked in the top 20 in Canada.

Ranked first in the country for U18 pole vault was Urbanowicz, while Olivia Lundman improved her personal record to 23 minutes, 55.3 seconds in the 5,000m race walk. Both were national champions in 2019. Also ranked first in Canada is Sam Morrison with a PB of 16:59.9 in the 3,000m U18 race walk.

In field events, Lucy Russell improved her U16 long jump best to 4.94m, fourth best nationally. She also improved to 2.53m in pole vault and is now ranked third in her age group. NTFC discus throwers Autumn Vannini, Serenna Drake and Makenna Paugh are now ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in Canada thanks to personal best throws of 29.79m, 29.02m and 27.74m respectively. Drake also improved her shot put best to 10.56m, rating her fifth in the country. Joining them are U18 discus thrower Gill Parcher who is ranked 14th with his PB of 31.24m, and U16 competitor Katelyn Putz who is rated fourth in discus for her 30.99m effort, as well as fifth in hammer throw at 41.58m.

U16 high jumper Lydia Paris is now ranked second nationally with her personal best of 1.55m. Third in the boys’ U16 category is Sacha Therrien who leaped 1.70m. In long jump, U18 Benedek Horvath and U20 Madison Paugh are both ranked 13th in the country with respective best jumps of 5.79m and 5.23m.

On the track, U20 sprinters Sven Opperman and Daniel Hall had times of 11.0 seconds and 11.2 seconds for the 100m. In the same division, Josh Greir and Stirling Henry improved their personal bests to 11.4 seconds and 11.3 seconds respectively.

As well, Urbanowicz and Russell are both now ranked in the top 10 in the 100m with respective personal bests of 12.3 and 12.5 seconds. Russell is also ranked second in the 200m with her PB of 26.6m.

In the middle distance 800m event, several local runners had improved efforts. U20 runner Kate Cameron ranks third nationally with her time of 2:14.9, with Gage Zanette ranked 13th. Zanette is also rated seventh in the 1,500m event thanks to a time of 3:53:99, while U20 Jake Putz also set a new personal best at the end of June with a time of 2:01:02.

So lots of improvement, plenty of success and loads of promise. No wonder Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes are looking forward to provincial championships, coming up on July 24-25. We’ll have results in a future column.

Whatever your sport, a reminder to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Track and field