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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Track Star Tyree Harriott will choose Hockey over track

Courtesy  Jesse Snyder

He may be tall for his age, but 13-year-old Tyree Harriott carries himself like any average Grade 8 student.

That is, until he explodes from the starting blocks and sprints 100 metres down the track - in all of 11.55 seconds.

Harriott will be one of three 13-and 14-year-olds representing Zone 3 (including Alberta, B.C., Idaho and Oregon) at the Hershey track and field championships held in Hershey, Pa., on Saturday. He'll be running the 200-metre race.

"It's definitely going to be way tougher," Harriott said of the competition. "It's going to be really different. I don't know how I'll stack up against them."

Coming from Edmonton, Harriott is looking forward to making the leap into international competition. At six-foot, he has "longer strides than most people," and consistently wins by a comfortable margin.

"Usually, when I run against people from Alberta, it's a big beating," he said, in a comment that was more honest than confident.

Currently, the young up-and-comer holds the 300-metre outdoor provincial record and the 200-metre indoor provincial record, which had not been broken for nearly 20 years. He's applying for the Alberta 100-metre record, too, because of a timing discrepancy in a recent race.

But he hardly sees himself as a runner. His true passion is on the ice, where he plays for the Knights of Columbus Squires Bantam AAA team. He will be joining the Hockey Academe at St. Thomas Moore school next year, and hopes to be drafted to the WHL in his first year of eligibility.

He isn't sure which sport he wants to pursue professionally, though he might devote himself to running if it presents an opportunity for him.

"If I find I have a really good chance in track, I'll probably choose it," Harriott said.

For now, he just runs for the competition of it; he rarely allows himself to dwell on past wins and losses, or worry about upcoming races.

"I run every race with no regrets; what happens just happens," he said.

It's something his father and race coach, Ian Harriott, has always taught him. When he was an NCAA runner at Auburn University of Alabama, Ian felt a sudden numbness in the left side of his body, and had to stop competing.

He saw a number of specialists all around the U.S., but none offered any answers.

"Up to this day, no one knows what caused it," said Ian.

Now, he plays the role of coach, teaching his son to leave it all out on the track and never hesitate.

"He has got a lot of ability," Ian said. "I think he's going to be better than me."

They train together three to four days a week, along with Tyree's 15-year-old brother, Ian Jr., whom Tyree also looks to for inspiration.

Their mother, Diana, drives them to the south Edmonton's Rollie Miles track on practice days. Ian Sr. usually gets there shortly after working a full day, and the four of them are usually together at the track for many hours every week of the summer.

"They inspire me and support me," Tyree said of his family, especially his brother. "They make you do your best all the time."

Also representing Zone 3 at the Hershey's tournament: Sophie Sigfstead, girls 11-12 800 metre; Emma Curle, girls 13-14 800 metre; Eric Lutz, boys 13-14 800 metre; Chuba Nwachukwu, boys 11-12 standing long jump.

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