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Yellowjackets get a taste of international competition

Bonnyville cousins Alese and Mason Sartain competed at the Simplot Games Indoor Track and Field Tournament in Idaho earlier this month. Photo submitted.

BONNYVILLE – Stepping up to the starting line at an international competition was the next move for two local track stars.  

From Feb. 13 to 15, Lakeland Yellowjackets and cousins Alese and Mason Sartain went head-to-head with some of the best athletes in North America during the Simplot Games Indoor Track and Field Tournament at Idaho State University.

“It was definitely something we’re not used to,” exclaimed 17-year-old Alese. “Here in Alberta, Mason and I are among the top runners. We still have one or two kids faster than us, but we had a bunch of kids that were able to push us.”

Over 100 high school students went head-to-head in the preliminary round before the top 18 in each category moved on to the finals.

Alese competed in the girls 60-metre dash and finished 12th with a time of 7.87 seconds.

Mason ran in the boys 60-metre dash, claiming 16th with 7.10 seconds. The 17-year-old sprinter said it was his performance in the 200-metre dash that really stood out, when he clocked in at 22.86 seconds to get ninth place.

“I struggle with my 200-metre, because I’m not the best at the event indoors… But, my final personal best was over half a second after both of my races. I went from 23.32 seconds to 22.86 seconds.”

Even though they both missed the podium, Alese and Mason were excited to participate during the meet.

“Track is a big mental game and if you’re not in the right head space then you’re not going to do well. For me to go there and be able to succeed the way I did, I know I’m where I need to be and I’m going to get a personal best at provincials,” Alese expressed, describing the Simplot Games as a “milestone in our track life.”

Mason saw the competition as a stepping-stone.

“It’s driven me and put me in a different mindset where I’ve gone from wanting to compete with the best to being the best.”

The Simplot Games is an invite-only event that had high school-aged athletes battling to see who would get the best score. Mason described it as “the biggest one for athletes to get scouted at” by United States universities.

Although they haven’t made any commitments yet, Mason and Alese have toured schools south of the border to see which would be the best fit for them when they head to post-secondary.

Simply being invited to the Simplot Games was significant for Alese.

“Especially with this town being all hockey and very small, it meant a lot to be able to go to Idaho to compete with people from different states and to be from a small town in Alberta where track isn’t a huge deal.”

This year marks the cousins’ last as part of the local track and field team, but Alese noted “once a Yellowjacket, always a Yellowjacket.”

Mason added he hopes they’ll be able to come home during the summer to be part of the Yellowjackets training.

For now, the pair is getting ready for provincials in Edmonton from Feb. 29 to March 1. They’re both focused on improving their track and field times and trying to beat their personal bests.

“You always want to get better, but when those things don’t happen you just kind of have to move on and train as hard as you can. You want to keep filling your head with good thoughts like ‘this is where I’m going to do it’ and ‘this is what I’m going to run,’ and eventually it will happen,” detailed Alese.

Mason added, “A lot of athletes think ‘I want to be this kid at this meet,’ but I don’t think like that. I think ‘I want to be a pro. I want to be the best.’ I want to be able to say I’m the greatest of all time to be at the top to compete… For me, I just keep thinking that and repeating those words in my head.”

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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