When Noah Russell trains or races at the Apple Bowl, he expects to see a scattered few friends, family and maybe some curious onlookers.
That’s all about to change today for the 17-year-old Mount Boucherie Secondary student.
When he arrives this afternoon at the Kelowna track, he’ll be one of an expected 2,400 athletes competing at the B.C. high school track and field championships.
It’s the first time Kelowna has hosted the event since 1972.
“It’s just going to feel like driving to practice,” he said on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be weird, but I’m just going to have to adjust.”
Russell is a medal favourite in the 110- and 400-metre hurdles after winning both events earlier this year at the Okanagan championships earlier this month in Kamloops.
He’s hopeful running on his home track will help him reach the top of the podium.
“This is where we train every day,” Russell said. “It’s home to us.”
For Lindsay Maier, 16, the B.C. championships are about redemption.
An injury kept her from last year’s event in Langley, but she’s back on track and expects to help the KSS Owls challenge for gold in the 4X100-metre relay.
The Owls are third ranked headed into the weekend.
Having home-track advantage is especially obvious in an event like the relay. You know your exchange zones, cutting down on chances of a dropped baton.
Needless to say, Maier is happy Kelowna is getting its chance to host the rest of the province.
“It’s a lot different,” she said. “It’s, honestly, more relaxing. ... It’s actually a lot different competing when I’m staying at my own house.”
Maier’s teammate, Kenaysha Lyder, is counting on everything going smoothly in those exchange zones, too.
This is her final high school meet, and she is also seeking some redemption.
The 18-year-old Grade 12 student won gold in the 100 and 4X100 in 2017, but a hamstring injury kept her from competing last season.
She’s ranked third after clocking a 12.69 in the 100 to win the valley title, which is just a hair from her personal best of 12.68 set before her injury.
She recovered quickly from the initial hamstring injury only to injure herself again. By the time she was ready to run again, high school season was nearly finished.
“I was also mentally scared of hurting myself again,” said Lyder, headed to University of Saskatchewan in the fall.
Now healthy and at home, Lyder said she’s happy to have put the past year behind her.
“I’m actually really excited to compete and run on this track. ... You have more people here.”
While Lyder heads into this weekend as the graduating veteran, teammate Emma Cannan will hit the track with KSS for the first time. Not that the 15-year-old Grade 10 student is a rookie.
She won the Okanagan championship in the 100, 200 and 400 in Kamloops, narrowly missing the chance to beat her own valley record set last year in the 200.
She set the standard of 25.50 seconds last year with Dr. Knox as a ninth grader (her winning time this year was 26.13).
Cannan lives just minutes from the Apple Bowl, and welcomes the chance to compete at home.
“I’m actually looking forward to it,” she said. “I train on this track every day. ... I’m used to it.”
Yes, more eyes will follow her, but at least there will be no searching for hotels and she can focus on competing.
“I think I’ll be even more ready,” she said. “It’s good to be at home.”
3:05: Steeplechase (JB-JG Final)
3:50: 400 heats (all ages)
5:30: 1,500 heats
7:10: 4X100 Finals (Grade 8 Girls, Boys)
7:35: 4X100 Heats (Juniors, Seniors)
3:05 Field Events
High Jump (Grade 8 Boys)
Triple Jump (Junior Girls)
Long Jump (Junior Boys)
Discus (Senior Girls)
Shot Put (Special Olympics)
5:15 Field Events
High Jump (Grade 8 Girls)
Triple Jump (Grade 8 Boys)
Shot Put (Junior Girls)
Long Jump (Senior Girls)
Discus (Senior Boys)