A quartet of Sarnia Athletics Southwest stars competed against the best young track and field athletes in Canada earlier this month and the results were outstanding.
Marissa Mueller won a national title at the Legion National Youth Track and Field championships, finishing first in javelin with a throw of 46.86m at Ste. Therese/Blainville, Quebec.
Johnny Vanos captured silver in boys’ discus (46.52m) at the annual event, which showcases the country’s top under-18 track and field stars.
Zion Webb was fifth in shot put, coming through with a clutch throw on his sixth and final attempt, measuring 15.41m.
And while Mackenzie Mullen fouled on two of three hammer throw attempts, she managed a toss of 42.69m – good for 12th of 20 competitors.
The national exposure was new for the four young field athletes and Webb admitted he felt the pressure.
“I was really nervous,” said the 17-year-old St. Patrick’s High School student.
“I’d never competed at that high a level in my life. We really relied on each other for support.”
Coaches Joel Skinner and Maggie Mullen accompanied the team.
Webb said he didn’t set out to become a track and field star. He hadn’t really even considered it until St. Pat’s coach Bill Reid suggested it while trying out for basketball in Grade 9.
That spring he competed for St. Pat’s and finished fifth in the OFSAA regionals competition in shot put – one spot away from a trip to OFSAA.
Last summer, under the guidance of Sarnia Athletics coach Skinner, he chose not to compete at all. He simply honed his skills by training the entire season.
The strategy seems to be paying off. He’s in the midst of a breakout competitive year.
“I had the typical kid’s dream. Play football, get a scholarship at a D1 school and play in the NFL,” he said.
“When I first started doing shot put, I saw it as more of an offseason sport for football,” added Webb, a defensive end/defensive tackle with St. Pat’s.
“But now that I’ve seen my progression I want to see how far I can go with this. My goal now is to be a two-sport athlete, but focus on track and field … I don’t look at it as just an off-season sport any more.”
While he competes in all of the throwing events, like his Sarnia Athletics teammates, the powerfully built Webb said he is best suited for shot put.
“It’s a muscle sport but it’s really refined,” he said.