While Maple Ridge Secondary’s track and field team might still be quite disappointed at their season being cancelled, they do have something to cheer about.
Three of their top talents have accepted full scholarships to compete at the collegiate level.
Aiden Grout will be attending the University of Toronto, Alina Olson will compete for Trinity Western University, and Nico Aron will join a few former Ramblers at Simon Fraser University.
Grout was the B.C high school high jump champion in 2019, and set a new school record of 2.09 metres, which broke the old record, set by Nick Wilkes in 1994.
He is also the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Harry Jerome Scholarship given by B.C. Athletics.
“I’m super excited,” Grout said of the scholarship. “This has been one of my goals since I started doing track. Going to university and onward after that.”
The young leaper is hoping his skills will one day lead to the biggest track and field show there is.
“My dream is going to the Olympics,” he said. “The reason I joined [track] was I wanted to be Usain Bolt.
“I went into the 100 metre [dash] thinking I was going to be the best of the best.
“I got dead last,” Grout admits. “But then I found high jumping and had success there.”
Alina Olson has had significantly more success at sprinting than her team mate.
She broke the school’s 100m dash mark in 2017 and was the bronze medalist in the 100m event at the B.C .High School Championships, as well as a member of the 2018 BC Champion 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relay teams.
Despite the pandemic claiming the season, Olsen has been training hard to ensure she’s ready to succeed when she competes for TWU.
“We’ve actually been able to train and practice track and field,” she said, “We just social distance around the track and do our workouts that way.”
The speedster can’t wait to get back into competition.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Olson said. “It’s kind of surreal to me in a sense, because it’s always been my dream to compete at a university level in track and field, so I’m excited to fulfill that dream.”
Also tearing up the track will be Nico Aron.
He is a middle distance runner, and like his team mates, has had considerable success.
Aron is the BC High School Champion at 800m, and the recipient of the Tom Griffen Award given to the top high school half-miler in BC.
To earn the scholarship, he has put in a tremendous amount of work, but noted it has all been worth it.
“You train your whole life for this moment, so it feels pretty special when you get rewarded,” he said.
Aron added that it certainly helped to have his team mates to push him.
“We’ve all been friends for a really long time,” he said. “It goes back to when we were young kids competing against each other.
“We just found it more fun competing with friends, so that kind of drove us to want to do more and get better.”
MRSS track and field head coach, Andrew Lenton is very proud with the calibre of athletes the program has put out.
“The three Ramblers continue a tradition of excellence that has seen a steady flow of track athletes from Maple Ridge Secondary move on to compete at the collegiate level,” he said.
“They join eight Rambler alumni currently competing in the NCAA, NAIA, or USport at SFU, UBC, Waterloo, University of Idaho, & the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Almost as impressive is the percentage of athletes from the team who move on to pursue higher education.
“The average in any high school is 15 to 20 per cent and [our team is] averaging between 90 to 100 per cent ,” he said, “I think part of that is the nature of the sport and the nature of the program.
“We’ve had a strong coaching team in place for many year sand people like [former head coach and current principal] Ken Elphik and coaches before him have developed a culture of success, and managed to really embed values like strong work ethic and showing up to practice consistently,” Lenton added.
“And those values have resulted in success for us as a team and for many individuals.”