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Cowichan athletes shine at Track and Field Trials

The Canadian Track & Field Championships are one of the biggest track meets of the year for Canadian athletes, including for two athletes from the Cowichan Valley

The 2024 Bell Track and Field Trials are one of the biggest track meets of the year for Canadian athletes and representing the province and their club teams for the second-straight year were Cowichan Valley athletes Connor Hengstler and Alexa Dow.

The 19-year-old Hengstler qualified for the nationals, which were held in Montreal June 26-30, in both the discus and shot put while 17-year-old Dow qualified in the 800m and 1500m races. 

Hengstler, a former Duncan Christian School Charger and current Nanaimo Track and Field Club member, placed second overall in the U20 men's discus event with a long throw of 48.17m and fifth in the U20 men's shot put with a long throw of 14.40m. In both events Hengstler was the top British Columbian and in both events, his score was a new personal best.

"I would say that I’m happy, but not satisfied," he said following the event. "I wanted to pass 15m in shot put and 50m in discus at nationals which I unfortunately missed. The goal for the rest of the year is to train very hard for the jamboree in Nanaimo which will be my last big meet this year. I will keep training through the summer, and if I start to get close to the World Qualifying Standard for Discus which is 55.5m, I will compete at some more meets to try to reach it in competition to qualify."

Dow also competed in the Canadian U20 Championships at Complexe Sportif Claude-Robillard in Montréal and placed fourth overall in both the 800m and 1500m races after qualifying second and fourth in her respective heats.

“You always go into these races hoping to be on the podium. The week before I ran 1500m in 4:21 at the UBC 1500m night which was a time that would have put me at silver at these nationals," Dow explained. "But that’s the thing about racing — you never really know what’s going to happen.

"I learned a lot about championship racing and strategy and gained experience with having several heats and finals in a short amount of time. On Saturday, two of my races were only three hours apart. Being on the same track this weekend as Canada’s top runners who were earning their spot to the Paris Olympics was so inspiring.”

The Prairie Inn Harriers member focused on just the 800m at last year's nationals, placing second overall before going on to compete in both the 800m and 1500m at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Trinidad and Tobago a couple of weeks later.