Ask Brendan Hoff why he moved away from home in Campbell River to relocate to Victoria for his final two years of high school, and he’ll tell you that it was for months like this one.
June of senior year is a time of final exams, commencement and grad weekends, but in the case of the middle-distance running standout with the Reynolds Secondary Roadrunners, it’s also one chalk full of meets at which he will chase his goal of making the standard for the 1,500 metres (3:48) the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships later this summer in Poland.
At the first of those meets, the B.C. high school track and field championships last weekend in Nanaimo, Hoff’s endurance and grit were on display as he won both the 3,000- (8:39.33) and 1,500-metre (3:53.40) races, the latter with meet’s the second-fastest time since 1975.
And while the world qualification standard may seem a lofty goal to meet by the June 26th deadline, Hoff presents his best argument as to why he thinks he’ll hit it.
“This year, there has not been a race where I haven’t led and at times I have been running by myself,” he explained. “But when I can get into a race with incredible competition and they are all older than me, they can pull me to crazy-fast times.”
That was the case last season in late June when Hoff flew to London, Ont., for the 1,500 Night Meet, clocking a personal-best 3:51.17 at an event which for three hours, features only 1,500-metre races.
“It goes all the way into the night, under the lights, with crazy-good conditions and pacers in every race,” said Hoff, who last season also ran a personal-best 8:31 in the 3,000-metres at the national youth championships. “After the high school meet, I feel incredibly comfortable that I can go under (the standard).”
Hoff will race in the elite division at the Portland Track Festival on Sunday looking to shave 3.17 seconds off his best-ever performance. And if he doesn’t make standard in there, he has three more chances. He’ll run at the Victoria International, the Harry Jerome in Burnaby, and potentially at a last-chance meet on June 25, the day before the deadline, in Guelph.
Hoff knows that reaching his current level as one of the country’s top junior runners wouldn’t have been likely had he not elected to make his move to Victoria.
“It was a big move for me at the age of 16 to pursue a dream,” said Hoff, who out-grew the cinder tracks of his hometown and tired of the lengthy return trips to Comox were there was a proper track, but no middle-distance partners to train with. “I came to a point where I had to be 100 per cent committed to what I needed to do. Now, I feel like I’ve gotten two years of life lessons.”
The sacrifice included not being able to see his mom, who remained at the family home in Campbell River, as well as fending for himself for parts of his Grade 11 year when his dad, who had moved down with him, had to leave town for work purposes.
Yet it was a sacrifice that paid off.
Hoff, who ran 3:55 in a very tactical 1,500-metres against a field stacked with top Kenyans and Ethiopians at last summer’s World Youth championships in Colombia, wound up being recruited by some 27 different NCAA schools.
In the end, however, he looked at the vast resources and the level of expertise available to him in the provincial capital, and wound up choosing the Victoria Vikes as his collegiate destination.
“When I looked at the coaches I have been able to work with out of the Athletics Canada west hub, it made me realize my opportunities here were just as good,” said Hoff. “In the states, they are more about ‘What are you doing for us this year and how many points are you going to score for us?’”
It’s a similar tact taken by North Delta-Seaquam senior Michael Aono, the sprint to 400-metre specialist who was also besieged by U.S. offers but chose UBC for similar reasons.
All of that said, Hoff still got a very close call in the B.C. high school 1,500-metre final last week, needing a last-second push to edge Sardis Secondary’s UBC-bound Tanner Geary by a half-second at the finish line.
It may have been a little too close for comfort, but Hoff, who runs his best against the best competition, took satisfaction that his pace raised the level of the seven runners who followed him across the finish line.
“They all finished with personal bests,” laughed Hoff. “It was cool to run a good time, but also to help everyone else.”
Post Courtesy, The Province. View original article here.