Shorten the distance, narrow the focus.
That’s the game plan for Sir James Dunn’s Reg Peer heading into next week’s annual High School Track and Field Meet.
The two-day event, which begins Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., is slated for the Jo Forman Track.
Running as a junior a year ago, Peer swept the 800 metres, 1,500 m and 3,000 m events against city competition, before winning the 800 m and setting a new record at the Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) championships.
He placed fourth at that distance at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships, finishing in 2:01.64.
All of which has prompted the 17-year-old, Grade 11 student to devote most of his attention to that race, so much so that he’s not competing in either the 1,500 or 3,000-metre events next week.
“The 800 is definitely my best event,” said Peer, who has stepped up into the senior ranks and is also slated to run the 400m this year. “By training for the 400, it’ll give me more speed for the 800. I’ve wanted to focus on the 800 and I’m going to try it like this for a year.”
Eagles boys coach Pat Sanderson said he considers Peer to be among the elite runners in his age group in Ontario. Sanderson agrees with the decision and feels Peer should thrive without the burden of running longer distances.
“By putting all of his attention into the 800, his times at NOSSA and OFSAA will hopefully be that much better than they were last year,” Sanderson said. “Hopefully, he’ll break the two-minute mark at OFSAA.”
Saying OFSAA “is like my Olympics,” Peer is hungry to do well at this year’s provincials, slated for June 1-3 in Toronto.
Two years ago, competing as a midget, he placed fifth in the 800m at provincials.
But this time around, as a senior, Peer knows he’ll face exceptional competition from a pair of Southern Ontario runners, Justin Duncan (1:57.63), who was second in senior a year ago and Dustin Eldridge (2:00.68) who placed sixth.
“The 800 is the last sprint event of the day,” said Peer. “You want to run your first lap (400m) in 60 seconds and that involves some sprinting. I want to run well at city and NOSSA and my goal is just to make the finals at OFSAA. Even if I finished eighth in the finals, I’d be happy with that.”
As for the 400m, Sanderson said Peer is the city’s fastest at that distance, but his young runner believes he’ll be seriously challenged next week by the likes of SJD teammates Peter McGonegal and Brad Jarrett.
Notes: Wednesday’s action begins at 9 a.m. with Thursday set aside for possible competition should poor weather become a problem.
NOSSA action goes May 25-26 in Sudbury.