The Dalhousie Tigers male throwers continue to dominate the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference, despite a lack of real training facilities.
But for team captain David Kerr, it’s not a problem. Kerr is the second ranked thrower on the team, behind fellow graduating athlete Adam Karakolis. The fifth year kinesiology major switched to Dalhousie after completing first-year in his hometown of Fredericton at the University of New Brunswick.
“It’s close to home but it’s not at home, and the track program here is great – and the school is excellent as well,” he said of his choice to pick Dalhousie.
It was a decision that has benefited him as well as the Tigers. In his first year on the team, he won the weight throw event at AUS Championships, and came third and fifth respectively for the following two years.
This season, he placed second at the AUS championship meet, beating his previous best throw.
“Expecting a personal best is sort of tough but we were definitely hoping for one. We prepared all season to make sure that we were in good shape at this meet to hit one, and that definitely worked out this weekend,” Kerr said, adding that doing so “turned out to be necessary to qualify for [the] U Sport Championships.”
In the lead up to big meets like the recent AUS Championships, he has relied on improving technique more than anything, but is reaping the rewards of continuous repetition.
“We can practice our technique as long as we don’t actually throw, so we’ve been doing a lot of that, just going through the motions and perfecting it without the weight – so that when we do have the weight, we’re primed,” he said.
The ability of athletes like Kerr to practice their events is limited, as there is nowhere to throw the weight.
According to Tigers head coach, Rich Lehman, the team is making the best of it.
“They can throw the shot here, which before Tim Maloney arrived, we weren’t allowed to do,” he said. “But we’re not allowed to throw the weight – there’s nowhere, not even the Canada Games Centre.”
The closest place to throw is Truro, but that’s not a realistic option for the Halifax-based athletes.
“These are guys who are already national class throwers who have stayed national class throwers, but it’s very hard for them to have huge leaps and bounds improvement-wise if they can’t actually train here,“ said Lehman of Kerr and Karakolis. Happily, the two are defying the odds, as their recent performances have proved.
Kerr is excited for his “last kick at the can” as he heads into his last national university competition. He plans to continue throwing after completing his degree, but admits that life after being a varsity athlete is a different ballgame.
“Obviously it’s not going to be the same, where you’re on a university team and there’s not CIS nationals at the end of the season that you can point towards as the ultimate goal, but I’m going to keep training a little bit – mostly the outdoor season instead of the indoor season,” said Kerr.
Following his career at Dalhousie, he hopes to continue studying and become a teacher, and perhaps coaching track on the side.
“I’ve done some coaching accreditations, so to use those would be really nice.”
That said, there’s still one last competition for the Tiger, and he – along with the rest of the team – is looking forward to closing out the 2017 indoor season with a bang.
“I obviously want to do well at nationals, and coming off of a big PB at the conference meet, hopefully I can make that happen,” he said. “It was great seeing people pick things up at the right time, and challenge their personal bests, or in some cases even break meet records. As a team we are going to carry this momentum with us to Edmonton for nationals in March.”