Mason Sartain, right, accepts a gold medal at ASAA Track and Field Provincials in Red Deer on June 2.
Mason Sartain was just starting to think seriously about track and field when he, like many other Canadians, watched sprinter Andre de Grasse compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016. De Grasse defied the odds, and medalled in both the 100m and 200m.
“No one was talking about him,” said Sartain.
“That to me proves that even though we’re from Canada and we’re more focused on hockey than track, that we can still win. That we can still do good. That it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It matters what effort you put into it,” said Sartain.
He hasn’t looked back since.
At ASAA high school Track-and-Field Provincials two weeks ago, Sartain did something no one from Zone 7 has done since 1992 – win gold in both the 100 metres and 200 metres. He only missed a third gold medal in the long jump by a centimetre.
“He’s got an innate jumping ability that a lot of kids don’t…his speed combined with his jumping ability is exciting. He’s a pretty springy kid,” said his coach Larry Godziuk, Lakeland Yellowjackets.
Godziuk first saw Sartain’s potential and “springiness” during a summer workout series in 2016. From there, he started devising individualized training plans to challenge the youngster, and the improvement has been rapid. Mason has slashed 0.7 seconds from his 100m time in one season.
“I’ve been coaching track here since 1992 and he’s by far, in Grade 10, the fastest kid we’ve seen come through our area. Hands down…he also has the potential by Grade 12 to be the area’s first seven metre long-jumper. That’s a huge accomplishment as well,” said Godziuk.
“I think Mason can be the best in the world. I believe the only thing that can stop him is himself,” said Kevin Sartain, Mason’s dad..
“He has all the physical attributes, he has the genetic makeup to be a sprinter. I believe that he has the heart and determination. I believe the only thing that can stop Mason Sartain is Mason Sartain. He will go as far as he wants to go.”
The BCHS student is flirting with the 11-second barrier, an important milestone in a sprinter’s progression. At his age of 15, it’s a sign of great things ahead.
“The 11 second barrier is terrible…they got to break it. It’s the hardest thing to break. If they can break that 11-second barrier and get into the 10’s, then they can sail down…and then break the real hardest barrier and go into the 9’s.” said Kevin Sartain.
One hundred and twenty-six sprinters have broken the 10-second barrier, with the majority happening post-2000. For the moment, Mason just wants to break 11-seconds.
“Maybe not this year, but next year he’ll be in the high 10-seconds,” said Godziuk. “The senior boys gold medal run this year at Provincials was 10:92 or something like that. He’s definitely in that realm – absolutely.”
Some important people are noticing Mason’s athletic ability too.
The RBC Training Ground searches for athletes who show potential to compete at an olympic medal, and have reached out to Mason. He went through various tests to test his compatibility with other sports. Soon after, he was invited to play rugby, and just a couple weeks ago received an invitation for a bobsleigh workout in the future. He has declined these offers for now.
“It’s really cool how they do that. It really opens up your opportunities for other stuff. But right now, I’m focused on track,” said Mason.
This weekend is the Caltaf track meet in Calgary which determines the athletes who will compete for Team Alberta at Legions Nationals. Mason will be in tough to reach the standard time needed to qualify, as he’s competing against kids older than him in his division. If his time is fast enough, he will qualify again for Nationals where he won silver in the medley relay last year.