WINDSOR, N.S. - Brothers Noah and Zach James, both students at Avon View High School, managed to bring home some hardware from the recently-held track and field provincials in Cape Breton.
They won gold in the 800-metre race for senior and intermediate levels.
And as incredible as that achievement is, they’re not the only ones in their immediate family to have taken home gold in the 800-metre. Their mom and dad, Paula and Edward James, have also placed first in that category.
Noah James, 18, is wrapping up his Grade 12 year with a few more accolades in his pocket, including gold in the 100-metre and 400-metre relay events.
He also received a silver in the 400-metre and came in fifth in the 100-metre hurdles.
This isn’t Noah’s first time at the provincials, but he said it was a really great way to finish his high school track career.
“It was really great, on my last year, to bring home gold in the two relays and have a good finish with all of my friends who have been with this since middle school,” Noah said. “It was by far our best year.”
For Noah and Zach, having their parent’s knowledge and skill is a huge asset — not only did they win high school competitions, but they won national awards at the university level as well.
“There’s some pressure with that, but really it’s great,” he said.
“It’s something not a lot of people get, parents who actually know what it’s like, because they’ve gone through it,” he continued.
“I don’t know what I’d do without my mom and dad, as coaches and as parents.”
Noah is also heading to Dalhousie University, like his parents, on a track and field scholarship.
Zach James, 15, will be competing again at Avon View next year at the intermediate level, so he still has a lot of room to grow.
During this year’s provincials, he participated in the 800-metre and 400-metre races, the 100-metre hurdles and the 4x4 relay. He received gold in the 800-metre.
“On the first day I kind of hurt myself in the hurdles, so I wasn’t able to run the 400, but I think in the end it was actually a good thing, as I was well-rested for my 800 the next day,” he said. “Overall, I think it went well.”
It was his first gold medal in an individual event.
“It was just awesome. It felt like all of the training had paid off,” he said. “It was twice as good when my brother won also, right after I did.”
Zach said having everyone in the family involved in the sport allows everyone to work together.
“If someone’s injured, we know the struggles they’re going through,” he said. “We can help each other train. There’s certain things that some of us are better at. Like, my brother is faster than me, but I’m better at distance, so we help each other.”
There’s a friendly rivalry between the two brothers, which helps them to push each other.
Embarrassment of running riches
Paula James, Noah and Zach’s mother and coach, said she was thrilled with how well they did at the provincials.
“They won those events back-to-back, and I got a little teary,” Paula said.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to be a part of it,” she added. “When my boys started track, we knew we wanted to coach them, but then decided, why just coach them? Why not open it to the whole community?”
With that in mind, Paula and her husband Edward began a running club called Valley Athletics, administering track and field training for 11 months of the year.
She also helps to coach the school track team, which she says makes it feel like one big family.
“They’re all around my kitchen table at lunch time,” she said with a laugh. “It’s wonderful to see all of them grow as athletes and as people.”
Paula won nine national medals while she was at Dalhousie University, winning gold twice in the 600-metre, so she definitely knows what is required to take it to the next level.
“It could be thought that our boys have a little bit of pressure on them to perform, but they were very involved in sports when they were younger,” she said.
“We had our fingers crossed they would get involved with track and field as well,” she continued.
“Track kind of is in their blood.”
Building the track membership
Noah and Zach are also part of a new regime at Avon View High School, a growing, excelling track and field program that is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with at the provincial level.
Ian Shaw, head coach of the school’s track team, said when he first started the track program at AV, he could fit the entire team in his van, so there was no need to rent a bus.
“Last year we came second for senior boys, almost had a provincial banner. This year we almost got a banner, we just need more in the field events,” he said. “It’s getting bigger every year.”
He started coaching track at West Hants Middle School before bringing the program to the local high school.
He knew Noah at the time as a Grade 8 student and has been working with him ever since.
Shaw said he expects Noah to do great things at Dalhousie and looks forward to Zach’s progress in the years ahead.
Avon View High School provincial track and field results
• Eileen Benoit: 6th place in 1500 metres, 5th in 3000 metres
• Sidney Lowe, Elizabeth Smith, Kerensa Johnson, Eileen Benoit: 6th place in 4x400 metre relay
• Zach James: 1st in 800 metre, 7th in 100 metre hurdles
• Ian Lemmon, Austin Cleveland, Zach James, Robert Williamson: 6th place in 4x400 metre relay
• Robert Williamson: 1st in triple jump, 2nd in long jump
• Taylor O’Leary: 5th in long jump, 6th in triple jump
• Noah James: 2nd in 400 metre, 1st in 800 metre, 5th in 100 metre hurdles
• Jacob Benoit: 1st in 3000 metre, 3rd in 1500 metre
• Tyler Eddy: 3rd in long jump
• Dan Lord: 4th in high jump, 4th in 200 metre
• Zach Lowe: 8th in 100 metre hurdles
• Josh Hilchey, Noah James, Tyler Eddy, Dan Lord: 1st in 4x100 metre relay
• Josh Hilchey, Noah James, Tyler Eddy, Dan Lord: 1st in 4x400 metre relay