Hay River will make up a third of the track and field team as the NWT gets set to compete in the Western Canada Summer Games next month.

A total of 24 athletes from around the territory, eight of which are from Hay River, will represent the NWT at the annual competition in Swift Current, Sask., which runs Aug. 9 to 18.

The team roster was officially released by Athletics NWT at the beginning of July.

The Hay River contingent includes four boys: Declan Munro, Zack Horton, Ethan McKay, and Bryce Smith; along with four girls: Fiona Huang, Rochelle Smith, Reegan Jungkind and Chandelle Leonard.

Fiona Huang, a graduate of Diamond Jenness Secondary School, gets ready for the start of a race with the University of Toronto’s track team. She will compete in the Western Canada Summer Games next month.
Photo courtesy of Fiona Huang

Several of those athletes are coming off big wins at the NWT Territorial Track Championships last month, including Declan Munro, who will compete in both the 800-and 400-metre races down south.

The 15-year-old runner said he was excited when he found out he had been picked for the team.

“I was little surprised, but I’ve been training hard and that was my goal,” he said.

Munro came first in the 800-metre race at the territorial championships last month. He was also supposed to race in the 400-metre but he pulled out due to injury.

“I just wanted to do one race so I could show the coach would I could do,” he said.

Munro is currently running every day doing a mix of intense workouts and easier workouts to prepare for the event. He is also doing lots of stretching to prevent any more injuries.

Harry Cassie, the Norman Wells-based president of Athletics NWT, will coach the team.

He said he put together the squad using results beginning with the 2018 NWT Track and Field Championships in Hay River.

Most of the people selected for the squad were also invited to a training camp earlier this year.

“I’m not surprised, because most of the competitive athletes come from Hay River,” said Cassie ahead of the camp earlier this year.

The team won’t be having a formal training camp ahead of the games, but Cassie’s plan is to have as much of the team as possible attend the Sherwood Park Track Classic later this month in Edmonton.

He said the goal is to get the athletes used to running on a rubberized track, similar to the kind they’ll  use in Swift Current.

“Some of the athletes have already been on a rubberized track before but most of the athletes up here are used to running on shale or gravel,” he said. “A rubberized track is so much different and so I want them to get at least one meet on it to get the feel of it.”

As one of the youngest people scheduled to compete in Saskatchewan, Munro says it will tough for him to compete with athletes in their 20s. He said his plan is to focus on getting a personal best and improving my time.

“I’m just going to run my own race, I won’t worry about them or placement,” he said.

— with files from James McCarthy