Taylor keeps Oak Bay on track for gold at Island track and field championships

Speed, with plenty to spare, came out of the blocks Wednesday as the 2014 Island high school track and field championships opened at UVic’s Centennial Stadium.

Nick Taylor of Oak Bay rose from his sick bed to qualify for today’s finals in the boys’ 200 and 400 metres as well as the 4x100 and 4x400.

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“I was in bed for 20 hours straight with the flu before coming to the track … I had to race through it,” said Taylor, who is coached by 1976 Montreal Olympian and former University of Oregon Ducks track star Dacre Bowen of Victoria.

Another Oak Bay runner coached by Bowen — who also coached 2008 Beijing Olympic gold-medallist and 2004 Athens Olympic silver-medallist decathlete Bryan Clay in high school in Hawaii — was winning at the Island high school meet a few years ago. Brendon Restall, seventh in the 400 metres at 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships, is now into his CIS career with the University of Victoria.

The graduating Taylor begins his next phase in the fall by also running for UVic. Not bad for a kid who tripped and fell flat on his face in the first 400-metre race he ever ran.

“I’ll see what I can do and how far it can take it … Team Canada is the goal,” said the Oak Bay runner.

On the women’s side, the Duncan area is producing some burners that will bear watching over the next few years and who dominated the sprinting Wednesday. Taryn Smiley from Cowichan Secondary led qualifying in the 100 metres with a 12.85 clocking. Tia Baker from Frances Kelsey led the 200-metre qualifying with a 26.35 followed by Smiley at 26.78 and Chicago Bains from Cowichan in 26.84. The Cowichan 4x100 team of Smiley, Bains, Casey Heyd and Nicole Lindsay qualified first.

The running finals are today.

“A lot of us train outside the school [with CVAC club in Duncan and the Comox Valley Cougars and John May, who is also coach of 2012 London Olympian Cam Levins],” noted Smiley.

“That training pays off.”

Smiley is in Grade 11 with the long-term goal of securing an NCAA athletic scholarship.

Bains, top female athlete at the 2013 Legion Canadian Youth Championships, is only in Grade 10 but runs at the senior high school level.

“We [Duncan sprinters] all get along so well,” said Bains, whose main event is the hurdles.

As to her unique first name, she said she doesn’t know why her parents named her Chicago.

Several field finals were held Wednesday with Danika Postle of Oak Bay winning the girls’ triple jump at 10.73 metres, Nikeisha Dass of Alberni the javelin at 40.25, Lindsay Cole of Mount Douglas the pole vault at 2.80, Hannah Kaiser of Reynolds the discus at 33.69 and Courtenay Neville-Rutherford of Parkland the hammer at 45.47. In boys’ field finals, Luke Bradley of Alberni won the discus at 40.15 metres and Kain Melchior of Cowichan the triple jump at 12.8 metres.

Defending provincial champion Oak Bay, which has won the B.C. title 10 times in the past 13 years, is gunning for its 23rd consecutive Island championship in the team category.

The top three in each of the 21 events will qualify for the B.C. high school championships May 29-30 in Langley.

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