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R.F. Staples senior brings home bronze from provincials

Paige Snyder throws 9.99 metres in the shot put

WESTLOCK – Graduating R.F. Staples School student Paige Snyder wanted to fill her last year with moments to remember.

And the 18-year-old did just that, earning a bronze medal at the 2022 Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) Track and Field Provincials in Medicine Hat, June 3-4.  

“It’ll always be a core memory. Having the experience to go to provincials and see those athletes and compete at that high level — I probably won’t be able to do that again,” said Snyder. “It was really awesome.”  

Snyder finished third in the senior girls four-kilogram shot put after throwing 9.99 metres. R.F. Staples Secondary School was joined by St. Mary School and more than 100 1A to 4A schools across the province for the two-day event.

Five R.F. Staples students in Grades 10-12 travelled to provincials — although more students qualified, there was a conflict with Grade 12 graduation that day. Thomas Oloske competed in the senior 100m and 200m sprints, missing out on the final in both, while finishing 16th in the shot put. Meanwhile, Preston Bruens wound up 16th in the senior 3,000m event, while Samuel Bowsfield finished 15th in the junior high jump and failed to advance to the final of the junior 100m hurdles. Vicki Brett also competed in the intermediate 1,500m, finishing 14th, and did not finish the 3,000m.

“It was more for the experience because I never got the chance to go to provincials in Grades 10 or 11 because of COVID,” Snyder explained. “It’s like the last kick at the can. It was the last sporting event I could do in high school.”  

R.F. Staples Secondary School travelled to the event with their counterpart, Barrhead Composite High School, who also had seven students competing. Snyder said that fellow competitors were welcoming and friendly, but were focused on competing in their various events, and shot put was no exception.

“The girls were very skilled and very competitive,” said Snyder, noting a total of 16 participants in the event. “I definitely was not expecting to place, I thought I would be in the mix. I was expecting like sixth or maybe seventh (place).”

During her high school career, Snyder has excelled in volleyball and basketball and chose to focus on a track sport that demonstrates physical capabilities and strength. She plans to continue sports during her post-secondary studies in Grande Prairie in the fall. 

“I know there was a couple of people that were really close to provincial records and then there were people that broke provincial records that I got to watch,” said Snyder. “There were some people that take track super seriously. It was really cool to experience and compete with those people.”  

Top 10 for Romanuik

St. Mary School sent one athlete to provincials, Grade 12 Janelle Romanuik, who finished 10th out of 16 runners in the intermediate 1,500m race in a time of 5:43.49, while ending up seventh out of 14 athletes in the 3,000m in a time of 12:23.04.

School athletic director Darcy Romanuik, who’s also her father, said they had two goals heading into the event: finish in the Top 10 and score personal-best times.

“And we achieved both of those, so for her to end her high school career on that note going against the best in the province was tremendous,” said Darcy, noting they were especially pleased with her result in the 3,000m, an event she trains for. “She truly exceeded what she wanted to do.”

As an aside, he noted the 1,500m record which was set in the mid-1980s, was broken by two girls in the final.

“I feel sorry for the girl in second because she beat the record by seven seconds, while the girl who won it beat it by 14 seconds. I was like ‘Wow!” he said. “For the 1,500 they sprint it the entire way, it’s go, go, go. It’s just amazing.”