Bazil Spencer’s natural talent caught Dylan Armstrong’s eye.
The Kamloops Track and Field club coach saw Spencer soar to a second-place finish in senior boys’ high jump at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships in Langley on June 1.
Spencer, from Quesnel, was asked to come to the Tournament Capital to train with Armstrong ahead of the National Legion Track and Field Championships, which wrapped up on the weekend in Brandon.
“I was jumping in running shoes and jumping 1.90 [metres] with no technique,” Spencer said. “He took me in and has been training me. It’s crazy.
“He got me some high jump spikes. I didn’t even know those existed. We did some weightlifting. I just trusted him and he got me going pretty high.”
Spencer, who turns 17 in December, went high enough to win gold at nationals on the weekend, clearing 2.01 metres to finish atop the podium in the under-18 division with the personal-best leap.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Spencer said. “Just a couple months ago, I was going into high school provincials and I was ranked 12th.
“To be here is crazy, let alone winning it. It’s just awesome.”
Spencer was nearly eliminated at 1.89 metres on the weekend.
The mark he used to time his run-up became stuck on another competitor’s foot. With his timing off on his first attempt, Spencer failed to clear the bar. Officials allowed him to reset the mark prior to his second jump, but the timer was running and his rushed effort came up short.
“I was really nervous because I knew I had to make it on the third, but I cleared it, so it was all good,” Spencer said.
Aiden Grout, who was also representing B.C., was the last athlete in Spencer’s way, but he stalled at 1.95 metres.
Spencer secured gold when he jumped 1.98 metres, but kept on going to eclipse his former personal-best mark of 2.0 metres.
“He pretty much hasn’t jumped at all, having done, like, four competitions,” said Armstrong, who won bronze in shot put at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. “He’s definitely a super talent and it shows today, to come out to nationals and set a personal best.”
Spencer, who attends Correlieu secondary in Quesnel, is considering moving to Kamloops this summer in time for his Grade 12 year.
“I’d like to do that,” he said. “There is way more opportunity to train.”