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2018 in Review: The Outstanding Performers of AtlanticU23 Athletics

Posted 3 weeks ago

2018 in Review: The Outstanding Performers of AtlanticU23 Athletics

AtlanticU23 is very pleased to announce the twenty-three athletes who have been selected to receive an Outstanding Performer Award for the 2018 year. Athletes under the age of twenty-three years and registered members of an Atlantic provincial branch of Athletics Canada were chosen based on their cumulative performances throughout the calendar year, including performances achieved throughout indoor and outdoor track and field, cross country, and road racing.

In addition to our write-up of their major accomplishments this year, we asked each athlete for one piece of advice that they would give to newcomers in the sport.


Nick Beaulieu (Bedford, Nova Scotia)
Strong winds proved to be the biggest challenge for Bedford’s Nick Beaulieu. Coming into his final competition of the outdoor season, Nick had twice run under 11 seconds in the 100m, though neither time legal due to a wind speed over 2.0 metres per second. Competing in the U18 category at the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Nick advanced to the 100m finals with a time of 10.85 in the prelims, but again with an illegal wind speed. In his final 100m race as a U18 competitor, Nick captured silver with a time of 10.82, this time with an allowable wind speed. Nick further proved his quick abilities at the Championships, capturing bronze in both the 200m and the long jump, and placed 5thas a member of the province’s 4x100m team

Advice: Never underestimate yourself, a goal that might seem unachievable can often be accomplished if you just put in the work and trust your capabilities.


Stephen Belyea (Amherst, Nova Scotia)
Achieving a string of personal bests in the long jump, Amherst’s Stephen Belyea made the seven metre mark look easy. Beginning the outdoor season having never cleared seven metres in the long jump, Stephen surpassed that mark a total of five times this year. At the Canadian Track and Field Championships, Stephen placed 8thin the long jump. Stephen was part of the Halifax/Dalhousie University sweep of the Maritime Track League men’s podium, placing 2ndoverall.

Advice: Have great work ethic. In many competitions I’ve been in, I may not have been the most naturally talented but what has separated me from others is the willingness to work my absolute hardest both on and off the track to be the best athlete I can be.


Jack Berkshire (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
Dropping nearly a second off his 300m time from the year prior, Fredericton’s Jack Berkshire rose to be a top competitor in the Canadian university league. Representing University of Toronto at the OUA Track and Field Championships, Jack captured silver in the 300m and won a silver medal as a member of the university’s 4x200m team. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Jack placed 4thin the 300m and won two silver medals as a member of the university’s 4x200m and 4x400m teams.

Advice: Try not worry about your results and competitors, just do your best because that's all you can do.


Matt Coolen (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Coming off a quadriceps injury from the year prior, and missing a substantial amount of training due to sickness, Halifax’s Matt Coolen proved that he could still go head-to-head with the best in the country. Representing Dalhousie University at the AUS Track and Field Championships, Matt captured gold in the 60mh, silver in the 60m, and won a gold medal as a member of the university’s 4x200m team. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Matt captured gold in the 60m and placed 4thin the 60mh. Matt was part of the Halifax/Dalhousie University sweep of the Maritime Track League men’s podium, placing 3rdoverall.

Advice: First of all, believe in yourself. Before you take any action you have to believe you can do it. Then visualize yourself accomplishing the goals that you set. You can practice visualization at any time and it will prepare you for an actual competition. For me personally, before a race, I like to take ten minutes and mentally prepare myself by finding a quiet place and visualizing my steps and rhythm through a clean race.


Bridget Deveau (Fall River, Nova Scotia)
Primarily a combined-events athlete, Fall River’s Bridget Deveau had tremendous success in both the combined and individual events. Representing University of Massachusetts Amherst, Bridget captured gold in the pentathlon at both the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track and Field Championships and the ECAC Indoor Track and Field Championships. At the Atlantic 10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Bridget captured gold in the heptathlon and placed 4thin the javelin. At the NEICAAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Bridget captured bronze in the javelin and placed 6thin the 400mh.

Advice: Enjoy the process as much as you can. Track is a long-term sport and it is important to not focus on competitions and results, especially early on in your career. If you can have fun at practice, make great friends and simply enjoy what you are doing without getting hung up on results, your experience will be more positive and long-lasting. If you put in the work, results will eventually come on their own. I just treat every practice and competition as an opportunity to improve, and no matter what my results are, I come away from the experience with a positive outlook because as an athlete you never stop learning and growing.


Laura Dickinson (South Nelson, New Brunswick)
Coming off a very successful 2017, South Nelson’s Laura Dickinson continued her winning-ways and once again proved her abilities at the international level. Representing Canada at the Pan American Cross Country Cup, Laura captured silver in the U20 women’s race and helped secure Canada the team gold. At the IAAF World U20 Championships, Laura represented Canada once again, placing 9thin her heat of the 3000m steeplechase. With just one month left in the year, Laura represented Syracuse University at the Boston University Season Open, racing to a time of 16:10.65 in the 5000m, a new Canadian U20 record by over twenty seconds.

Advice: Have fun with it and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Try out different events to see which ones you like the best! When I started out, I tried a lot of different events like 80m hurdles, 200, and triple jump!


Ryan Evans (Saint John, New Brunswick)
Still adjusting to the pole vault and implement specifications, Saint John’s Ryan Evans proved himself a jack of all trades. In his rookie year at University of Western Ontario, Ryan captured bronze in the heptathlon at the OUA Track and Field Championships, and placed 7that the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships. Representing Canada at the Pan American Combined Events Cup, Ryan placed 6thin the U20 decathlon.

Advice: Track and field is a very individual sport in the sense that you cannot control anything except for what you do yourself. Do not get caught up in what everyone else is doing, just do what you need to do to perform your best and work every day to improve yourself. Enjoy everything the sport has to offer, make the best out of what you have, and love every second of all the ups and downs in your face because they will only make you stronger.


Hudson Grimshaw-Surette(Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)
Though a newcomer to the university sport scene, success on the track was certainly nothing new for Yarmouth’s Hudson Grimshaw-Surette.In his rookie year at Dalhousie University, Hudson competed at the AUS Track and Field Championships, capturing gold in both the 600m and 1000m, and won gold and silver medals as a member of the university’s 4x400m and 4x800m teams, respectively. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Hudson placed 7thin the 1000m, 11thin the 600m, and 10thas a member of the university’s 4x400m team.

Advice: Have fun with training and the sport, because having fun makes working hard easier.


Jordan Henri (Moncton, New Brunswick)
The sixty-metre seven-second barrier had no defence for Moncton’s Jordan Henri. In the final months of the year prior, Jordan became the first Atlantic U18 athlete to break seven seconds in the 60m, and broke the barrier six times this year alone. Equally impressive, Jordan became the first Atlantic U18 athlete to break twenty-three seconds over 200m indoors, and nearly broke the next barrier with a best clocking of 22.06. Among Atlantic U18 athletes, Jordan became the first to break the twenty-two second barrier over 200m outdoors, clocking 21.91. Jordan’s indoor times of 6.87 in the 60m, 22.06 in the 200m, and 34.90 in the 300m were the fastest times by a male U18 athlete in Canada this year.

Advice: Focus on what your dream is, work hard, and don’t let anyone stop you. Be you, don’t be someone else. Be patient, everything will fall in place.


Julia Howley (St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador)
Moving up in distance, adding some barriers to the race, and throwing in a water-jump proved to be a beneficial choice for St. John’s Julia Howley. Representing Simon Fraser University at the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, Julia captured gold in the 3000m and won a gold medal as a member of the university’s distance medley relay team. At the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, Julia placed 12thin the 3000m and won a bronze medal as a member of the university’s distance medley relay team. Trying out steeplechase for the first time, Julia found great success in her new event, achieving a top-10 national ranking and placing 6that the Canadian Track and Field Championships.

Advice: This sport is demanding, both mentally and physically. You’ll have the most success when you’re running to better yourself, not to be better than someone else.


Danielle Keefe (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
Making large strides in her first year of the U18 category, Fredericton’s Danielle Keefe showed strong growth across the distance events. At the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Danielle placed 6thin the 3000m and 7thin the 1500m. At the Canadian Cross Country Championships, Danielle placed 29thin the U18 race. Competing in the U20 category at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, Danielle placed 7thin the 3000m and 14thin the 1500m.

Advice: You have to work for what you want. Some days you may not want to go out and train, but it’s the effort on those days that will make you better, physically and mentally. It won’t always be easy but if you stick with it and try your best every time, you will reach your goals.


Andrew LeBlanc (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
Moving up to the longer mid-distance events, Fredericton’s Andrew LeBlanc made large strides this year. Representing University of Guelph at the OUA Track and Field Championships, Andrew placed 10thin the 600m and won two gold medals as a member of the university’s 4x400m and 4x800m teams. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Andrew captured bronze in the 1000m and won a gold medal as a member of the university’s 4x800m team. Racing the 1500m for the first time in several years, Andrew broke the 3:50 barrier, and broke the 1:50 barrier in his primary event, the 800m.

Advice: Stay patient. Results don’t always come as quickly as we want, but know that consistent hard work will pay off eventually. So have confidence in yourself, and have FUN!


Jacob LeBlanc (Moncton, New Brunswick)
At just sixteen years of age, Moncton’s Jacob LeBlanc has already established himself capable of challenging for national and international medals. Competing in the open T54 events at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, Jacob captured silver in the 400m, bronze in the 100m, and placed 4thin the 200m, 5thin the 800m, and 7thin the 1500m. Competing alongside Olympians and international medalists at the Desert Challenge Games, Jacob captured bronze in both the U18 200m and Open 1500m, and placed 5thin the Open 800m, and 6thin both the Open 100m and 400m. Jacob placed 2ndin the para category of the Maritime Track League.

Advice: You are the only thing that can stop you from accomplishing things. Set your goals and chase them until you achieve them, and then set new ones.


Shae Ledévéhat (Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador)
Achieving a personal best in nearly every performance throughout the summer, Mount Pearl’s Shae Ledévéhat proved her competitiveness in both the multi-event and the individual throws.Competing in the U18 category at the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Shae captured Team Newfoundland and Labrador’s only medal, winning bronze in the heptathlon. Shae’s best attempt of 40.73m in the javelin is the second farthest throw in the history of the heptathlon event at the Legion Championships.

Advice: Don’t expect instant results. Motivation, commitment, and hard work takes time but the results will come. I have to work on little improvements everyday, all while trying to balance high school, work, family, friends, and training. I try to stay positive despite set-backs and try not to get down when I have to dedicate more time to school or something other than training.


Shelby MacIsaac (Riverview, New Brunswick)
Showing talent in nearly every track and field event, Riverview’s Shelby MacIsaac continued to make waves this year. Competing in the U16 category at the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Shelby placed 6thin the 100m and 8thin the high jump, and placed 4thas a member of the province’s 4x100m team. Shelby recorded a time of 1:35.58 in the indoor 600m, a Canadian all-time best in the U16 category, while her time of 58.02 in the indoor 400m was the fastest time by a female U16 athlete in Canada this year.

Advice: Always try your best to keep a positive mind set and have fun with it. The training can be tough and the competitions stressful, but just trying to keep in mind that you can finish the last run in your interval workout, or remembering to relax and think optimistically about your race on competition day, will make all the difference.


Sarah Mitton (Brooklyn, Nova Scotia)
Often throwing metres farther than her competitors, Brooklyn’s Sarah Mitton has consistently proven herself a top contender in Canada, and an emerging name on the world stage. Representing Windsor University at the OUA Track and Field Championships, Sarah captured gold in both the shot put and weight throw. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Sarah captured gold in the shot put and silver in the weight throw. For her outstanding performances, Sarah received the Women’s Most Valuable Performer (Field Events) Award at the OUA Awards Banquet, and the Women’s Athlete of the Year (Field Events) Award at the U SPORTS Awards Banquet.

Advice: Believe in yourself as much as the others around you do. I am so lucky to have been surrounded by so many great people who believed in me more than I ever could and now I’m starting to believe in myself and all of the hard work that I’ve put in over the years. Be patient with your progress.


Andrew Peverill (Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia)
An already well-established distance runner, Lower Sackville’s Andrew Peverill started his university career in spectacular fashion. In his rookie year at Saint Mary’s University, Andrew competed at the AUS Track and Field Championships, capturing gold in the 1500m, bronze in the 1000m, and won a gold medal as a member of the university’s 4x800m team. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Andrew placed 5thin the 1500m and 13thas a member of the university’s 4x800m team. Andrew placed 19that the U SPORTS Cross Country Championships, and 6thin the U20 race at the Canadian Cross Country Championships. For his outstanding performances, Andrew received the Male Rookie of the Year Award at the AUS Awards Banquet.

Advice: Be patient. Before you get to the big workouts and high volume weeks, you need to have a foundation built on the little things such as form and good habits. Without that foundation, you won’t be getting as much benefit as you could be later on.


Maya Reynolds (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Moving to Atlantic Canada for post-secondary education, Halifax’s Maya Reynolds (originally from Markham, Ontario) has had great success in the region she now calls home. Representing Dalhousie University at the AUS Track and Field Championships, Maya captured gold in the 60mh, silver in the 60m, and won a gold medal as a member of the university’s 4x200m team. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Maya placed 10thin the 60m and 9thas a member of the university’s 4x200m team. In the women’s category of the Maritime Track League, Maya placed 1st.

Advice: Support your teammates. My favourite part about running track is all of the friends I've made and I don't know how far I would have made it without them.


Bailey Smith (Ten Mile House, Prince Edward Island)
Performing best when it matters most has become a natural ability for Ten Mile House’s Bailey Smith. Representing the University of Prince Edward Island at the AUS Track and Field Championships, Bailey retained her championship title, capturing gold in the 60m. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Bailey placed 7thin the 60m. For her outstanding performances, Bailey received the Female Athlete of the Year (Track Events) Award at the AUS Awards Banquet.

Advice: No matter where you come from and what things you may not have accessibility to (an indoor track to train on for example!) never doubt yourself and what you can do! Never let one bad race or a bad time defeat you, and always push harder for the next goal! It's amazing what you can accomplish with the right mind set and the positive support system!


Maggie Smith (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
A top competitor in the mid-long distances, Halifax’s Maggie Smith reigned queen among her events this year. While her triple gold medal performance at the NSSAF Track and Field Championshipscame as no surprise, her shattering of a thirty-four year old record in the 1500m, held by a later-Olympian, turned heads across the nation. Representing Team Canada for the first time at the Jamaican U18 Invitational, Maggie raced the 800m on Canada Day, which also serves as her birthday, capturing bronze in the event. Competing in the U18 category at the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Maggie captured gold in both the 1500m and 3000m, and won a bronze medal as a member of the province’s 4x400m team. At the Canadian Cross Country Championships, Maggie captured bronze in the U20 race and has been named to compete for Team Canada at next year’s NACAC Cross Country Championships and IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Maggie’s time of 4:25.11 in the 1500m was the fastest time by a female U18 athlete in Canada this year.

Advice: Find a coach and a team that not only motivates you, but who you enjoy spending time with. I owe so much of my success to the people I run with and my coach because I have such a great support system.


Craig Thorne (Quispamsis, New Brunswick)
A specialist in hurdles, Quispamsis’ Craig Thorne literally cleared all barriers in his way. Competing in the U18 category at the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Craig captured gold in the 400mh, bronze in the 110mh, and placed 11thas a member of the province’s 4x400m team. Craig’s gold-winning performance of 54.42 in the 400mh was the fastest time by a male U18 athlete in Canada this year.

Advice: Discipline yourself and to stay committed to your goals. There will be highs and lows throughout your career and learning how to deal with this will help make you stronger. Athlete development is as much mental as it is physical. You have to trust the process, and believe in yourself.


Mike van der Poel (Truro, Nova Scotia)
Primarily a long-sprinter, Truro’s Mike van der Poel equally demonstrated his capabilities in the short sprints. Representing Dalhousie University at the AUS Track and Field Championships, Mike captured gold in both the 60m and 300m, and won two gold medals as a member of the university’s 4x200m and 4x400m teams. At the U SPORTS Track and Field Championships, Mike placed 5thin the 300m, 10thin the 60m, and 10thas a member of the university’s 4x400m team. Mike was part of the Halifax/Dalhousie University sweep of the Maritime Track League men’s podium, placing 1stoverall.

Advice: If you want to see results, you have to be consistent. It means you have to stick to your plans and focus on your goals when you're on the track. It is about not allowing anything to stop you from doing your workout once you start it unless it's something really severe.


Erin Vringer (Saint John, New Brunswick)
Proving her status as one of Canada’s rising age-class champions, Saint John’s Erin Vringer showed that her young age is not a limitation. Having turned fourteen years old this year, Erin most often raced against competitors of a higher age. Competing in the U16 category at the Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships, Erin captured gold in the 1200m, and bronze in both the 2000m and 1500m steeplechase. Erin impressed the nation once again at the Canadian Cross Country Championships, placing 5thin the U18 race despite competing against athletes up to three years her senior.

Advice: Work hard in practice, have patience, and enjoy every opportunity to step up to that line and run your race. I am always full of excitement waiting for the gun to go off.

“2018 was a wonderful year for Atlantic athletes all around, and we are very pleased to recognise a number of those in the U23 category that performed exceptionally well,” said Brandon Scott LeBlanc, Host of AtlanticU23. “The combined efforts of Atlantic athletes this year is a message to all of Canada: We can be competitive at the national level, we can challenge for medals, and we can achieve spots on the national team.”

While the publications of AtlanticU23 focus on the U23 age category, we wish to congratulate the successes of all those who call Atlantic Canada their home, if only temporarily. In particular, we wish to recognise all the athletes and coaches that were selected to represent, or have represented, Team Canada in 2018. For many, the opportunity to represent their country internationally is the greatest honour of all. These individuals have demonstrated through hard work and tireless dedication that coming from a small province need not limit one’s opportunity and potential.

David Bambrick (Athlete, 2018 Commonwealth Games)
Chris Belof (Coach, 2018 Pan American Cross Country Cup)
Laura Dickinson (Athlete, 2018 Pan American Cross Country Cup, 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships)
Ryan Evans (Athlete, 2018 Pan American Combined Events Cup)
Geoff Harris (Coach, 2018 NACAC Championships, 2019 IAAF World Championships)
Heather Hennigar (Coach, 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships, 2018 NACAC Championships, 2019 Pan American Games, 2019 IAAF World Championships)
Savanna Jordan (Athlete, 2018 Pan American Cross Country Cup)
Geneviève Lalonde (Athlete, 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships, 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2018 NACAC Championships, 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships, 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships)
Steve LeBlanc (Coach, 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships, 2019 Summer Universiade)
Rich Lehman (Coach, 2018 Jamaican U18 Invitational)
Yvan Pelletier (Coach, 2019 Pan American U20 Championships)
Angus Rawling (Athlete, 2018 FISU World University Cross Country Championships)
Maggie Smith (Athlete, 2018 Jamaican U18 Invitational, 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships, 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships)
Mike Tate (Athlete, 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships, 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships)

With 2018 came much success —here’s to much more in 2019!



Hosted by New Brunswick-born track runner, administrator, and coach Brandon Scott LeBlanc, AtlanticU23 is an interview series with upcoming Atlantic Canada track and field athletes under the age of 23.

Facebook: @AtlanticU23

Twitter: @AtlanticU23

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