Brielle Woodruff in her B.C. Games team jacket. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Woodruff putting her considerable talent to the test in the pentathlon

Former swimmer turned track star ready for a great B.C. Summer Games experience

Brielle Woodruff did a happy dance when she learned she’d qualified for the 2018 Cowichan B.C. Summer Games.

Now, the Chemainus resident, Cowichan Secondary School student and Nanaimo Track and Field Club member (she covers a lot of territory) will be dancing along the track in the 800 metres, soaring to new heights in the high jump, long jump and 80-metre hurdles and hurling the shot put like a slingshot as part of the gruelling pentathlon during Games competition at the Cowichan Sportsplex track in Duncan.

To say Woodruff, who turns 15 on Aug. 24, is ready and raring to go is an understatement.

“I’ve been training non-stop, it feels like,” she said.

Games qualifying for athletes hoping to represent Zone 6 took place at the end of May in Nanaimo. Woodruff had originally thought about trying to make the grade in the steeplechase, of all things, before going for the gusto in pentathlon.

“Everyone who wanted to go to B.C. Games for the Island came and said they wanted to be considered,” she explained. “Top two in every race, you were guaranteed to be going.”

Woodruff finished third in her event and had to wait to find out if a wild card spot would open up for her for the Games.

“I was kind of sitting around worrying and crossing my fingers for about a month,” she noted.

When Woodruff finally got the word in June, “I was very excited,” she enthused.

With the Games coming up this week, it’s all systems go now for Woodruff. She’s keeping her goals realistic, but there’s nothing wrong with thinking of the ultimate outcome.

“I want to do my best,” Woodruff indicated. “You shoot for the moon. If you land among the stars, that’s all right. If you don’t shoot for gold, you’ve got really no shot at all.

“I’d like to be all personal bests, would be really nice. To get a medal would be amazing. I’d be thrilled.”

Through it all, Woodruff is not losing sight of making sure she’s out there to have fun as well and enjoy the experience.

It’s been an interesting foray into track and field for Woodruff after years as a competitive swimmer with the Duncan Stingrays. It’s not like she hadn’t done some track and field before on a casual basis at elementary school and at high school meets, but specializing in it was another entirely different development.

Many of her skills transferred well from swimming to track and field, especially to give her the endurance necessary for distance events.

Woodruff joined the CeeVacs Jaguars in Duncan last year as a first step, but went the extra mile to become a regular with the Nanaimo Track and Field Club starting in April.

Overcoming a few minor injuries and a tendency to overtrain because she’s so enthusiastic have provided some hurdles outside of the physical jumps placed on the track. But she feels ready to showcase her talents to the highest level, particularly in the 800 metres and hurdles.

“Hurdles, high jump, I hadn’t done a lot of that,” Woodruff conceded.

But that’s not holding her back in the least.

High school meets at the end of the school year interspersed with club meets have kept her going virtually non-stop every weekend. Nanaimo also gave her a better option to practice three times a week instead of two with the Jaguars.

All the travel has her thinking it’ll be great having the Games in familiar territory as a host athlete.

“It’s nice because your family can come and watch you,” Woodruff said. “It is fun to go somewhere else. But it’s also exhausting and hot.”

Mom Julia certainly likes the idea. “I think it’s great for us and for the Valley, for our home athletes,” she pointed out.

“It’s nice because you know the track, too,” added Woodruff.

Her former schoolmate Kaz Bannister of Thetis Island, who may become a schoolmate again if Woodruff decides to return to Chemainus Secondary School this fall for her Grade 10 year which is a real possibility, is also on the Games track and field team in the 100 and 200 metres. Their connection goes way back to doing ballet together when they were three years old.

“Now we’re doing track instead of ballet,” said Woodruff.

She admits the Games are going to be a little nerve-wracking until she gets into it.

“I’m always nervous, every meet,” Woodruff admitted. “I think if you’re not nervous, you’re not really into it that much.”

And she’s definitely into it which means a lot no matter what the eventual results turn out to be.

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Long strides will surely make a difference for Brielle Woodruff in the 800 metres. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The 800 metres is one of the pentathlon events that will surely be Brielle Woodruff’s best. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Track athlete Brielle Woodruff is on her mark and set to go for the B.C. Summer Games pentathlon. The Chemainus product dons her Zone 6 team jacket, above left. She’s proud to be representing the zone and her hometown plus the Nanaimo Track and Field Club. (Photos by Don Bodger)

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