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Showing the province what a rural school can do

Barrhead Elementary School indoor track team puts up some fast times at the Running Room Indoor Games finishing ahead of city schools
The members of the Barrhead Elementary School Indoor Running pose with their ribbons after competing on the final day of the Running Room Indoor Games on March 11 at the University of Alberta Butterdome. Back Row L-R: Jacey Neumann, Carlee Loitz, Hoza Sano, Maddox Luciuk, Gavin Swan, Daxon Schlitter and Hudson Klein. Middle row L-R: Ava Pope, Abigail Marinutti, Nika Wepener, Kale Rentz, Skole Bouvier, Logan Morrow, Logan Wood and Gaige Messmer. Front Row L-R: Bryn McElroy, Adeline McGinn, Shreya Bimod, Olivia McNamara and Harrison Klein. Missing is Lucas Kent.

BARRHEAD - To use the wrong sports metaphor, the Barrhead Elementary School (BES) indoor running club punches above its weight.

For more than 30 years, the school has been participating in the Running Room (formerly the Edmonton Journal) Indoor games at the University of Alberta's Butterdome, more often than not competing in the 8x200 metre relay and often finishing ahead of schools in much larger communities.

This year was no exception.

On March 11, on the final day of the competition, the boys and girls relay teams made it to the consolation finals. The girls finished in sixth which was good enough for 12th overall, while the boys finished second in their consolation race, and eighth overall.

"We were the only rural school to finish in the Top 12," said BES teacher and indoor running club head coach Kelly Klein. "All the other teams were from Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, and Edmonton, and that makes a difference because we had nowhere to go."

Barrhead qualified for the final day of competition during the preliminaries, which were also at the Butterdome on Feb. 22, with the Top 60 schools advancing.

But as strong as a performance as the BES relay contingent was one member of the girls' relay team, Bryn McElroy, who really shined.

In the girls 200-metre elementary school dash, McElroy, or Brynchy as she is known to her teammates, took home the bronze medal. Ava Pope and Logan Wood also competed in the 200-metre elementary dash, finishing 25th and 22nd overall.

"She showed some real endurance, determination and perseverance, competing in six races," Klein said.

Unlike previous years, when the BES indoor track squad would head to the Butterdome a group via bus, each member and their entourage of family and friends travelled separately.

The first race, the girls 8x200 metres relay quarter-finals, was at 9:15 a.m., but to allow for registration, sufficient warm-up time and instruction, team members arrived a minimum of an hour early.

"It made for a long day," Klein said, adding the relay finals were in the evening.

However, after the preliminaries, she noted that BES club members had the opportunity to get away from the Butterdome and relax with their families doing fun activities in the city, such as shopping or touring the U of A grounds.

And Klein believes the time away from the Butterdome helped her squad, as not only did it allow them to unwind and not think about the competition, but get away from the atmosphere at the event.

"It is so inspiring and electric with all those people yelling and cheering, especially in the morning when there are still 60 teams," she said, adding while it is good for energy and motivation, it can also be draining and distracting.

Klein said the kids did a good job of channelling their emotions, especially their nervousness, noting for the semifinals of both the relay and individual events, coaches were not allowed in the competition area.

"But they did great, especially when you think that because of the pandemic (and the event having been cancelled for the last two years), they were all experiencing it for the first time," she said. "Normally, there would be a few members who have been there before to help guide those with less experience."

Klein also admits to having some of those nerves herself, noting that while she competed in the Indoor Games when she was a student at BES, this was her first year coaching, thanking her assistant coaches, Amy Swan, Chelsey Morrow, Correen Harrison and Rhonda Stoik.

"It was a true team effort. The runners all had their personal bests times throughout the day. They persevered through adverse conditions for the day and were victorious. They worked very hard and should be extremely proud of themselves," she said. "I am hopeful that they came away from the day knowing they can do hard things and work through the butterflies in their stomach. They came together as a team and supported one another. I was honoured to be their coach and lead them through this experience."

Barry Kerton,


Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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