Some elite athletes know exactly which sport they will pursue at an early age. Others find their athletic calling in a less direct route.
Swift Current’s Tenille Gering likely qualifies for the latter option after she recently committed to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies cross country and track and field teams for next season.
The grade 12 student, who is also an accomplished hockey player, only recently decided to pursue a career in distance running.
“I hadn’t really thought about track as something I could go places with. So it was just really this year that I decided to see what I could do with it. It has been fun. I am really enjoying myself. I can’t wait to get out next year and get out to the practices with the team.”
“I have got up to a couple practices now and I know that I have a lot of work to do so it is going to be tough but I am looking forward to it,” she added.
Gering credited her coach Mrs. Tuplin, a former standout track athlete with the Ardens and Huskies herself, for helping her get an opportunity with the Huskies next season.
Gering will be running the 5K on the cross country team and will be running distance events for the Huskies track and field team. The 3,000 metre is her favorite event but she has also been experimenting with the 800 metre this season.
Gering won the 3,000 and 1,500 at Sectionals in Swift Current last week. She placed second in the 800, less than half a second behind Herbert’s Ricki Doyle.
Gering competed this week in the 800, 1,500, and 3,000 metre races at the District meet in Swift Current where she hoped to finish top-two to qualify in all three events with for Provincials.
“We will have to see how that plays out. There’s usually not too many distance kids,” she laughed.
She attended Provincials in grade nine and 10 before last year’s event was cancelled. She has consistently been a top-10 finisher at Provincials and won bronze in the 3,000 in grade nine.
“Once you get to that provincial level it is tough to break that top-10 and that is kind of what my goal is going to be is to get into those races and just put all the training that I have done to work and see if I can get in the top-10 for those events.”
She also finished seventh at Cross Country Provincials in the fall.
“I am really going to work for that top-10 position. The group of girls that I am going to be up against in those races are tough competitors so being in that top-10 is going to be the goal. Get in the pack and as the race plays out I just want to keep getting up as far as I can. As long as I am top-10 I am going to be happy.”
She has put in the extra work this year to make those goals a reality.
“It has been a lot of work this year. Since I have decided that I want to take my running to the university level I have been training six days a week. It has been quite a bit and I have really been pushing up my practices trying to get up to the best I can be. I haven’t got there yet but I am hoping that next week and the week after when we head up to Provincials I am going to be at my top speed there.”
The individual pursuit of excellence in distance running is a drastic change from her time on the ice as a member of a hockey team.
“Yeah it is a little bit different. You can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you and that is where sometimes I beat myself up about it, get too hard on myself, and I am not doing what I need to be doing. With track we like to compete as a team and try and get as many points as we can but when it comes down to your race it is all individual. It is tough to get your head around it that you can’t rely on anyone to do the work for you, you have to go out and do it all yourself.”
Gering can take some inspiration from former Colts’ and current University of Regina Cougar distance runner Kelly Wiebe, who has become one of the country’s top performers, recently winning the Vancouver Sun Run in a field of almost 50,000 competitors.
“I had the opportunity this year, we went to the U of R meet, and we did get the opportunity to watch him race. It was awesome to see even just any of those university athletes run the races. It was really cool for our cross country group to see what level we could be at if we really wanted to work at it.”
Not unlike Gering, Wiebe was not a dominant runner at the high school level.
“Yeah I definitely think that it is a hard-work thing,” said Gering. “If you really put your mind to it, which I am going to try, you can really get up high there. He has been very successful and well known across the country for his running. I think that the best thing you can take from it is that the hard work is going to pay off and if it doesn’t work out this year in grade 12 and I am not where I want to be, I still have time to work at it and be the best that I can.”
The SHSAA Track & Field Provincial Championship will be held June 1-2 at Griffith’s Stadium in Saskatoon.