Battle of Bays brewing at Island track and field championships

Some great running, hurdling, throwing and jumping talent has come out of the Island high school track and field championships, the 2014 edition of which runs today and Thursday at UVic’s Centennial Stadium.

The athletes competing follow in the spike steps of Olympians and Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games performers such as Cliff Salmond, Bob Hutchison, Terry Tobacco, Bob McLaren, Murray Keating, Debbie Bowker, Dave Campbell, Harold Willers, Nathan Taylor and Mike Mason.

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Most won’t get that far, but some might.

The Grade 11 Oxland twins from Dover Bay, Thomas and Peter, are among those creating the most stir. Thomas Oxland represented Canada in the 800 metres at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine. Thomas and Peter Oxland led Dover Bay to the B.C. high school cross-country title last fall, along with another pair of Grade 11 twin brothers — Anthony and Chris Serban.

“We have a lot of talented runners, a lot of depth, this year at Dover Bay and we could sweep some events,” said Peter Oxland, who will contest the 800- and 1,500-metres and 4x400 relay.

“It’s great to have my brother to train with. We get along so well. Our goal this year outside of school is the junior nationals in Quebec.”

Dover Bay and St. Andrew’s could give traditional power Oak Bay a run for the Island high school team championship this week but it’s a tall task to unseat the Bays from their long-held perch.

Another green and white tsunami from defending B.C. champion Oak Bay is set to wash across Centennial Stadium. The Bays are gunning for their 23rd consecutive Island title en route to their hoped-for 11th provincial title in 14 years at the B.C. high school track and field championships May 29-30 in Langley.

“The pressure is always there to keep the streak going,” said Oak Bay head coach Mike Sheffer. “You don’t want to be the team that loses that Island streak.”

Sheffer was assistant coach to Oak Bay track and field coach Keith Butler for two decades before taking over as head coach three years ago.

“Keith [Butler] established the culture and the foundation here, including getting our track for the Commonwealth Games [the Oak Bay track was used as a Games training and warm-up venue],” said Sheffer.

“This streak is a legacy of what Keith has done.”

Oak Bay performers to watch include Nick Taylor, undefeated this year in the 100, 200 and 400 metres; and long-, triple- and high-jumper Danica Postle.

St. Andrew’s comes in with considerable strength, as well, especially on the girls’ side. Jordyn Piercy is the defending B.C. 400-metre hurdles champion. Another impact female performer is Hanna Kaiser from Reynolds, who threw 36.91 metres to win the discus at the Lower Island championships last week.

The top-three in each of the 21 events at the Island championships will qualify for the B.C. championships.

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