In fact, 12 of the 21-team members are from the western end of the province.
“That is really quite significant,” said P.E.I. coach Keith Tanton of Summerside.
Competition begins on Friday in two age divisions – under-16 and under-18.
“Midget and youth, it’s a different categorization than we use in the school system,” continued Tanton. “There are 14- and 15-year-olds in one group, and 16- and 17-year-olds in the other.”
The Prince County representation is comprised of Michaela Walker, Ryan Merrett, Nicholas Tanton and Matthew Tanton of Summerside; Alex Cyr and Myriam Cyr of Abram-Village; Amanda Harper and Aricca Fraser of Alberton; Fallon Gaudet and Matthew Kinch of Tignish; Jack Perry (hometown unavailable), and Brooke Gaudette (hometown unavailable).
“In terms of Prince County, they are doing some great work up west,” stressed Tanton. “They have a real strong club up there (West Prince) with (coach) Albert Bernard.
“We have four athletes from the Summerside area, a couple more from Evangeline and everyone else is from farther west. Those guys all train with Albert, and most of the Summerside athletes will come this way (Charlottetown) to train.”
All of the action will take place at the UPEI track, which is a legacy of the 2009 Canada Summer Games.
“Now, I think, our athletes are much better prepared because they are actually training on the type of facility they will be competing on,” said Tanton. “We never had that opportunity before.”
Tanton, who added P.E.I.’s team at the Legion nationals would usually be around 13 or 14 athletes, said the athletes have put a lot of work into training.
“The ones who have the potential to be competitive at a national level are pretty well committed to track and field year-round,” said Tanton. “They set out a program in the fall, and they follow it right through the winter and into the spring.”
“In terms of Prince County, they are doing some great work up west. They have a real strong club up there (West Prince) with (coach) Albert Bernard. We have four athletes from the Summerside area, a couple more from Evangeline and everyone else is from farther west. Those guys all train with Albert, and most of the Summerside athletes will come this way (Charlottetown) to train.” - P.E.I. coach Keith Tanton
Build on momentum
With the London Olympics just recently completed and Prince Edward Island Jared Connaughton representing Canada in track and field, Tanton feels it’s perfect timing for the nationals.
“This year, as well, it’s a little later in the season,” said Tanton. “The athletes have had a little more time to prepare.”
What can fans expect to see?
“The quality of the athletes at this event continues to rise,” offered Tanton. “They made some changes to the regulations a few years ago. Traditionally, in this event, you used to see a couple of athletes coming to this event from every province.
“Now athletes are able to enter as open athletes if they meet the qualifying standards. It’s not unusual to see eight or 10 athletes coming down from the Ottawa or Toronto area for example.
“You are truly getting the very best in the country. Before, where you used to have a field of 20 athletes, now you may see as many as 40 in an event. Anybody who manages to make it inside the top 10 is a pretty significant accomplishment.”
Team P.E.I.’s Prince
Alex Cyr (16) 1,500/3,000 metres
Myriam Cyr (15) 300/800 metres
Aricca Fraser (14) 1,200 metres
Fallon Gaudet (16) triple and long jump
Amanda Harper (17) 200 metres
Matthew Kinch (17) high jump
Ryan Merrett (14) 800 metres
Nicholas Tanton (16) triple jump
Matthew Tanton (14) discus
Michaela Walker (16) 800 metres
Brooke Gaudette information unavailable
Jack Perry information unavailable
Note: Athletes’ ages are in parenthesis.