AO U18/Open indoor provincials 2020

 St. Thomas Legion leaves mark at U18s


   Club second overall bringing home 10 medals and several top 10 results from

   the Athletics Ontario U18 indoor track and field championships

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


By Rob J. Ross 

ST. THOMAS - If Hallee Knelsen had raced on a dirt track, the dust would have cleared before the rest of the competition reached the finish line.

Knelsen won the women's 800 metre run by seven seconds (2:10.9) and the 1500 metres by nearly four seconds (4:38.29), at Athletics Ontario Under-18 provincial indoor track and field championships, February 8/9.

STT Legion

St. Thomas Legion Club's gold medal winning men's 1600-metre medley relay team is, from left, Mason Basson, Vincent Moore, Harrison Belanger, Dylen Belanger. (photo / courtesy St. Thomas Legion Club)

Both times were indoor personal bests (PBs) and club records for St. Thomas Legion.

"I thought I could win, but I didn't know I would run a 2:10," Knelsen said. "I've been even splitting my races (1:06 per lap). I thought I would take out the first lap a little faster, so I led from the start. I ended up even splitting again, this time at 1:05. It went really well. A really big PB."

In the 1500, Knelsen waited until the final 400 metres to take the lead, using her kick to break away from a pack of four runners.

"I think I ran a 32 second final lap," said Knelsen. "It was a four second PB for indoors."

The East Elgin Secondary School student concluded her meet anchoring the women's 1600-metre medley team to second place (4:17.87), with Tayah De Sousa, Kyra Vellinga and Claire Craig.

Knelsen was one of four athletes to medal for St. Thomas Legion and one of 12 top 10 individual results. Several athletes achieved PBs and set new club records.

St. Thomas was second in combined team scores for U18, behind the Flying Angels track and field Academy, from the Greater Toronto Area.

Tayah DeSousa took the gold medal in the women's 60-metre hurdles (8.73 seconds) and silver in long jump (5.44 metres), lowering her PB and club record. DeSousa also placed seventh, in the 60-metre dash (7.69 sec.), a new club record and 17th, in the 200-metre dash (27.13 sec.).

Mason Basson set personal best times and club records bringing home silver in the men's 800 metres (1:59.14) and finishing fifth in the 1500 metres (4:13.41). Toronto's Ajandan Arulananthan edged Basson at the line (1:59.03) in a photo finish.

"I didn't know if I could medal or even get close, so I did a lot better than I thought," said Basson, adding seeing Knelsen in her 800 inspired the Parkside Collegiate Institute student.

"I watched Hallee in her race go before me and she ran at the front of the pack. My coach said to watch her because she's experienced. Then I thought I would stay near the front of the pack and that helped me a lot."

Mason joined Vincent Moore and the Belanger brothers, Dylen and Harrison, on the gold medal winning 1600-metre medley (200-400-400-800) relay team (3:49.8).

"We ran really well," said Basson. "We won by quite a bit. It was good."

A.J. Stanat brought home a silver medal in men's weight throw (20.53m) and a bronze in shot put (PB 14.28m).

Dylen Belanger was sixth, in the 60-metre hurdles (8.55 sec.), setting a PB and club record.

Harrison Belanger placed eighth in the men's 800 metre run (PB 2:03.21) and 18th, in the 1500 (4:24.07).

Vellinga finished seventh, in the women's 400 metres (PB 1:01.62) and 23rd, in the 200 metres (27.69 sec.).

Moore was 14th in the men's 800 metres (2:05.98) and 21st, in the 1500 metres (4:25.88).

Justin Cole was (PB 10:15.13) 21st, in the men's 3000 metres.  Craig set PBs in the women's 1500 (5:20.74) and 3000 metres (11:44.79).


Coles and Erb battle for gold

Aiden Coles, a St. Joe's student who trains with London-Western club, won the men's 3000 metre run (9:12.5) and placed third in the 1500 metres (4:10.07).

The 3000 was a battle between Coles and Dorchester's Connor Erb.

"It's probably my top indoor race just because strategy throughout it," Coles said.

STT Legion

St. Thomas Legion Club's silver medal winning women's 1600-metre medley relay team is, from left, Tayah De Sousa, Kyra Vellinga, Claire Craig, Hallee Knelsen. (photo / courtesy St. Thomas Legion Club)

"It was a 15 lap race. Four laps in I threw in a surge and it stretched out the group. Me and Connor were actually talking on the fifth lap and said, we were going to switch leads every lap. Throughout the race me and him kept switching positions, first and second. He made a gap, but on the last lap with about 150 metres left I threw in a kick and passed him with about 60 metres left."

Erb finished in 9:13.08.

Aiden's brother, Tristan, placed third in the 3000 (9:13.22).

"I felt comfortable. It was my first indoor three K (kilometre) after missing all of last year's track season with a concussion," Tristan said. "I closed pretty well, 29 seconds over my last 200 metres."

Tristan was 11th in the 1500 metres (4:19.63).

"My first 1500 in awhile so it got the wheels going," Tristan said.

Dorchester's Owen Pink was seventh in the 3000 (9:25.92).

Dorchester's Dilpreet Sandhu finished 13th, in the men's 800 metres (2:05.97).

Brianna Rand, a 15-year old Dorchester native who trains with London-Western, finished fifth, in the women's 60-metre hurdles (9.33 sec.) and eighth, in the 200 metres (26.73 sec.).

Jadyn Luna, of Thorndale, with London-Western, was seventh, in women's shot put (10.28m), 17th, in long jump (4.43m) and 20th, in the 400 metres (1:04.35).


AO Open provincials

St. Thomas Legion's Michael Roth won a silver medal, in the men's 400 metres and finished fourth, in the 200 metres (22.69 sec.), setting club records in the process, at Athletics Ontario Open provincial indoor track and field championships, occurring simultaneously with the U18s.

Club-mate Bailey Couch was fifth in men's high jump (1.70m) and set a club record in the 400 metres (53.07 sec.).

Madison Wilson-Walker, of Avon, a para-athlete with London-Western club, placed fifth, in women's long jump (4.16m) and 20th, in the 60-metre dash (9.63 sec.)





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