Ravens end Crusaders’ reign

Johnson Lin, who demonstrated his fleet feet at the recent Province Gran Forza indoor track and field meet at the Richmond Olympic Oval, is among the many rising stars on MacNeill’s track and field team. -
Johnson Lin, who demonstrated his fleet feet at the recent Province Gran Forza indoor track and field meet at the Richmond Olympic Oval, is among the many rising stars on MacNeill’s track and field team.
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They’re the new kids on the block. Well, the newest anyway. But last week the A.R. MacNeill Ravens showed the poise of seasoned veterans, ending the 20-year reign of the H.J. Cambie Crusaders by winning the Richmond high school track and field championship.

“It’s very exciting for us,” said track and field coach Peter Thackwray, who has been teaching at MacNeill since the school opened in 2003 with only Grade 8s. Each year we’ve enjoyed better finishes.”

In 2008, buoyed by its first senior class, MacNeill finished a respectable third overall at the Richmond championships behind Cambie and Hugh Boyd. At the same time the Ravens won their first Richmond title in the Bantam girls’ division and earned a silver medal at the provincial championships.

In 2009 the race for the Richmond championship was even tighter. MacNeill, while still third behind Cambie and Boyd, sent several athletes to the provincial championships with jumping phenom Kevin Lian becoming the first Raven provincial champion.

Last year, MacNeill surged past Boyd to finish second in the Richmond championships. The Ravens won 20 district titles and topped two divisions (one going on to win at the Vancouver and District championships). The Ravens were also a close second in several other events.

On a rainy May 11t this year, the MacNeill blue and gold was out in full force. And while the weather was bad, spirits were high among the enthusiastic and determined Ravens. After the final scores were tallied, MacNeill had achieved its goal of being No. 1 while winning 28 events and seven of eight divisional banners.

However, the Ravens are not done. Grade 12 student Sandy Wai and Sydney Lau, who is in Grade 10, have both qualified for the provincial senior track and field championships June 3 and 4 at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium. Wai qualified in the shot put, discus and javelin events and Lau in the 100-metre sprint after each placed in the top two at this week’s zone championships. Lau was the B.C. junior champion at 100 metres in 2010.

In addition, the Ravens will be out in force at the Vancouver and District championships for grades 8 to 10 students which MacNeill will host next Wednesday (May 25) at Minoru Park. The action begins at 3:30 p.m.

Among the Ravens primed for success at the Vancouver and District championships is Nathan Tomas. The Grade 9 student won the shotput and discus events at the Richmond championships with throws of 12.12 metres and 30 metres respectively.

Chariisa Yu topped the Grade 10s at 400 metres at the Richmond championships and has also qualified for the long jump and 800 metres at the districts.

And Grade 9 student Umar Tung is coming off a fourth-place finish in the triple jump at the zones after winning both the triple jump and long jump events at the Richmond championships.

MacNeill vice-principal Mike Charlton said the success being enjoyed by the Ravens’ track and field athletes is well deserved and reflects the emerging talent among the students at the school.

“It’s tough to be a new and small school and to build tradition and history, but [in addition to achieving that] 98 per cent of our teams are covered by teacher coaches,” he said.

Charlton noted MacNeill’s Grade 8 boys’ basketball team also won a Richmond title this year, while three badminton teams made the playoffs—the seniors going on to win the Lower Mainland title and qualifying for the B.C. championships next week in Kamloops. He said the success validates the efforts of those overseeing the programs.

Noted in the district for his longtime involvement and support of the arts and sports at the high school level, Charlton said he believes such extracurricular activities produce many positive spinoffs.

“The classroom will always be the priority, it has to be, but I think there are many benefits to students getting involved in the life of the school,” he said.

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