BONNYVILLE – Two local athletes are ready to make a dash for the podium in their first international competition.
Lakeland Yellowjackets Alese and Mason Sartain are lacing up their running shoes as the 17-year-old cousins prepare to compete at the Simplot Games Indoor Track and Field Tournament at the University of Idaho from Feb. 13 to 15.
“It’s a high-level invitational meet in the United States,” noted Yellowjackets head coach Larry Godziuk. “It attracts a lot of high school athletes from North America to compete.”
Both Mason and Alese have placed at provincial and national track meets before, but this will be their first time participating in an international event.
“I just want to try and get my best time,” Mason noted. “As long as I’m getting my personal best, I’m winning. If I lose, at least I’m getting my personal best.”
Alese added, “I’m going to try and do my best no matter what happens, because… I was there, I competed, I did my best, and I know whatever happens I’ll be proud.”
Alese described the upcoming event as daunting, but she said it’s just another stop on their track and field journey.
“It’s just me and Mason trying to get where we want to be at, and that’s just the next level. Being able to compete with people from America is going to be a really good experience no matter what.”
The Simplot Games is invite-only where the best of the best will go head-to-head to see who will walk away with a gold medal. Although Godziuk knows the competition will put Mason and Alese to the test, he’s confident they’ll do well.
“At track meets, they run in A and B finals so the top eight fastest guys and girls are in first, second, and third. Then, they run a B final so people get another chance to run. These will be three heats with fast kids, they’ll take all the times and then decide who is the fastest out of the three. All three heats will be fast, and you won’t see the slower kids making the finals,” explained the head coach.
The pair will be running in the 60 and 200-metre dash during the event in their respective categories.
Thanks to their records at previous meets, the track and field stars are in talks with universities and colleges who want them to join their track teams next year.
“I’m not committed yet, but I’m talking to a few. They’ve been asking us to come down for official visits, and we have two that we’re actually planning on going to in the next couple of months,” Mason said.
Godziuk explained, “A lot of colleges and universities are just noticing that Mason is on the younger end of Grade 12s, and are a little bit more impressed with his times considering he’s almost a year younger than some of the kids coming out of high school right now.”
Getting into a division one or two school for track and field has been a dream of Mason’s since he started training in the sport around three years ago.
“In my head, I’m always thinking ‘can I actually do this? Can I make it?’ But, at the same time, I’m always thinking ‘I can do it and I will make it.’ That’s what I’m going to do.”
For Alese, nerves won’t be a problem heading into the Simplot Games thanks to her previous experience at track and field meets.
“I think leading up to this I won’t be nervous because I’ve been to nationals and provincials. The only thing different about this is I’ll be competing with people from America, and having some college scouts looking at me,” she detailed.
The duo will spend their final practices perfecting their performances and focusing on how to beat their personal bests.