Go north, young men.
That was the plan for identical twins Adam and Scott Commandeur of Comox as they landed four-year NCAA track scholarships to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Donning the Seawolf green and gold, the brothers settled quickly into their new environs – quickly being the key word as both claimed Great Northwest Athletic Conference (11 universities from six states) championships in their freshman year, with Adam adding a school and conference record and All Region honours for good measure.
After stellar high school careers at Highland Secondary School (they graduated in 2013) and much success at BC Summer Games and Canadian championships, the Commandeurs wanted to pursue their track careers at the same university. Their search soon focussed on NCAA Div. 2 UAA.
“We already knew a bunch of people up there and the track program is pretty good so we decided to go up there,” explained Adam, who was on the UAA team that won the 4x400m title at the Feb. 21-22 GNAC indoor championships at Nampa, Idaho. Their 3:16.09 time was three-and-a-half seconds faster than the runners-up and set the indoor record for UAA with the second-fastest time in GNAC history.
Remarkably, it was the first time the team ran the event. “We knew we had four good strong runners (four of the eight 400m finalists – Elliott Bauer, Commandeur, Bobo Camara and Ethan Hewitt) and we could take the title home pretty easily,” Adam said.
Adam also scooped a silver medal in the 400m. “We had another runner in our team (Hewitt) who has the 400m record for both indoor and outdoor. What I tried to basically do the whole race was pace right behind him and it worked out pretty good.” Hewitt won in 48:31 while Adam was right on his heels, finishing in 48:84.
Outdoors, the team set a school and GNAC record March 14 in a time of 3:13.70, then broke that on April 18 with a time of 3:12.22 at the Bryan Clay Invitational in California.
Adam earned All Region honours for both indoor and outdoor track for his 400m, the 4x400m and also the distance medley relay. The top five individuals in each event from the region earn All-Region distinction.
Scott had to wait until May 9-10 to claim his GNAC title at the outdoor championships in Monmouth, Oregon. But it was definitely worth the wait as he won the 800m – without even realizing he’d done so.
With the sixth fastest time in the event heading into the championships, Scott said he was feeling good going into prelims. “I knew I’d done a lot of really, really good training about three weeks prior to the race. I had some of the fastest guys in the conference with me. I set a personal best (finishing third in 1:53.29) and didn’t really feel that tired from it,” Scott said.
“Going into the final I knew I had to be up with the front guys in order to maintain the pace with them. My coach told me before the race it was probably going to go out a little slower, then if the pace changes you have to notice it and go with it and stay with it the rest of the race.
“That’s what I did with about 250m left. Coming into the final 100m I was battling with (prelim winner Cameron Porceviat) from Simon Fraser University. We were sprinting to the end and I got him by .08 seconds. I didn’t even know I’d won till I looked up at the scoreboard (and saw the time),” said Scott, who set another PB with a time of 1:52.97.
Home for the summer, both young men are training and attending meets as they prepare for the Canadian Junior championships July 4-6 at Sainte-Therese, Que.
The UAA campus is nestled in the middle of a greenbelt, surrounded by lakes, ponds and wildlife, and is connected to a city-wide trail system. With that backdrop, it’s easy to see why the Commandeurs enjoyed their first year in Anchorage, where Adam is studying physical education and Scott is undeclared but leaning toward hospitality and restaurant management.
They are looking forward to next year, and Scott notes the school is building a new sports complex that will open in August, just in time for the start of their new season.
FINISH LINES Another Highland grad now attending UAA, Cody Parker, holds the GNAC javelin record (and second best NCAA Div. 2 mark) with a toss of 77.98m he launched in 2013 …