McCurdy, in pole vault, Stevens, in javelin and Aiden Coles in the 1500 metre run,
win silver medals on day two of the provincial high school track and field meet
June 3, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
TORONTO, Ont. - In one month, Libby McCurdy went from a retired gymnast to an OFSAA medalist.
The St. Joseph's Ram won the silver medal in novice women's pole vault, at the OFSAA track and field championships, at York University.
McCurdy was one of four local athletes to stand on the podium, on day two of the three day high school provincial meet, along with Dorchester's Evan Stevens, in novice men's javelin and St. Joe's Aiden Coles, in the senior men's 1500 metre run, both winning silver, and St. Joe's Tristan Coles, bronze, in the senior men's 1500.
"I'm proud that I made it all the way here. I'm excited. I got a big PB," said McCurdy, who cleared 2.65 metres and only had two misses at previous heights.
After some shaky warm-up jumps, McCurdy settled in, making four consecutive attempts
"Right before, I had a few bad practices," McCurdy said. "I was very nervous. There was big competition and I wasn't too confident in myself. But half way through, I just thought to have fun and try my best and it worked out."
It was just early May, when McCurdy had one practice, before heading to the Thames Valley Regional Athletics (TVRA) meet, May 11-12, at Western University, in London.
Rachael Wolfs, a teacher at St. Joe's and former pole vaulter with the Windsor Lancers track and field team, scouted McCurdy.
"She used to be a gymnast. I used to be a pole vaulter, so I recruit any gymnast I see," said Wolfs. "I found out she was a gymnast and she was fast. So I said, try pole vault and she loved it. She picked up on it and she's got better at every meet."
McCurdy was the lone competitor at TVRA and one of only two at WOSSAA, but the competition increased at regionals. McCurdy qualified third for OFSAA, with a PB of 2.25 metres.
"I was really nervous at first. I was like, scared to try it, but I trusted her and I tried it," McCurdy said. "It's really fun. It's my new favourite sport."
McCurdy was a competitive gymnast for 11 years, reaching level 11, with the St. Thomas Gymnastics Club, competing in bars, vault, beam and floor. She made Team Ontario but the COVID pandemic cancelled all competitions.
"That's when I stopped
doing it," McCurdy said. "Now I'm doing track and
it's taking up a lot of my time and I love it. I
Jordyn French, of Bolton High School, won the event, the lone competitor to clear 2.75 metres.
Wolfs competed in pole vault at Windsor, from 2013 to 2018, winning gold at the 2018 U Sports Nationals, clearing 4.15 metres.
McCurdy is the younger sister of Justine, who competed in track and field at Parkside Collegiate and with the St. Thomas Legion Club, during the 2000s. Justine still holds the club record for U14 women's 60-metre hurdles, at 9.89 seconds.
So close Stevens
Evan Stevens went from not even in the top 10, to literally a few centimetres from a gold medal.
The Lord Dorchester student, from Thorndale, threw a PB of 44.71 metres for silver, three centimetres behind winner, Jack Brownlee, of Fonthill, at 44.74 metres.
"It was stressful in the first round. I wasn't even in the cut off with the first two (throws). Then I threw a 42 that got me in," Stevens said. "That allowed me to relax and throw my 44.71."
His 42.94 metre effort vaulted Stevens, from 11th to third place, but he would need to throw even further, during the second round of three throws, to remain in a medal position.
"When I was going in with the top eight, I was third. I didn't think that would hold and it turns out I wouldn't have been podium with that throw," said Stevens. "When I threw the 44.71, I knew that would get my podium."
Once among the top eight, and focusing on form, Stevens had his best throw.
"I was way more relaxed because there was no pressure to make the next cut. I was relaxed. That was the key," said Stevens. "It's a great experience. I've worked so hard over the last seven weeks to get here. I want to thank my coaches too, Mrs Ashby and Mr. Tennant. I wouldn't be here without them."
Stevens won't let being so close to gold bother him.
"If I had stepped closer to the line or anything like that, but I'm happy with second. Coming into today I knew I had a chance and that's what I wanted all along," Stevens said. "It's the best sports experience I've had."
His sixth throw may been over 45 metres, but it landed out of bounds.
Merrick Rollins, of Parkside Collegiate, the WOSSAA and West regional champion, just missed the podium, placing fourth, with best throw of 42.15 metres.
"It's a good rivalry with (Rollins)." Stevens said. "He had an off day today, but next year he'll be back."
Brothers back to back
St. Joseph's Rams and brothers, Aiden and Tristan Coles, finished two-three in the senior men's 1500-metres (three minutes and 49.07 seconds 3:49.07 and 3:51.14), respectively.
Aiden led throughout the race, until Riley Flemington, of Oakville Appleby College caught him over the final 200 metres.
"The first lap I felt so good. Probably the best I've ever felt in the first two laps of this race. Usually it takes me a little while to warmup," said Aiden. "I tried to run the legs out of Riley. I took it out with 800 (metres) to go. I knew he had a really good close. He showed it yesterday (heats). He closed in like 26 seconds, the last 200 metres. Obviously it wasn't enough. He was still able to close in 56 (seconds final lap). He's a phenomenal runner. I knew it wasn't going to be easy and I tried to give him a run for his money. I think I did that, but he was better on this day."
Aiden was a half second off the the qualifying time of 3:48.5, for world juniors.
The brothers cherished running at OFSAA for the first time together.
"It's an unreal feeling. Being able to step on to the line right beside him, say good luck and give him a pat on the back," Aiden said. "It felt amazing to finish with Tristan right behind me. His first track OFSAA, to finish two-three with him."
Tristan missed the 2019 season, due to a concussion. Aiden won bronze in the novice men's 3000 metres, a race the brothers will be in on day three.
"I wasn't that nervous going in to it," Tristan said. "It was more when I got on the track and was doing strides and saw everyone. Then I was getting a little nervous. It wasn't my best day in terms of performance, but I definitely gave it my all for the day."
Dorchester's Brianna Rand finished fifth, in the senior women's 100-metre hurdles final (14.82 seconds).
St. Joseph's Rams Dylen Belanger was seventh, in the senior men's 110-metre hurdles (14.77 sec.), slowed by a couple hit hurdles. Belanger set a personal best time of 14.33 seconds during the heats.
Parkside Stampeders Ethan Dolby, finished 18th, in the senior men's 100-metre dash (11.38 sec.).
East Elgin Eagles Julie Nagelhout placed 19th, in senior women's long jump (4.71 metres).
Parkside Stampeder Andrew Monteith finished 12th, in the junior men's 1500 metres (4:37.47).
St. Joe's open men's 4x400-metre relay team of, Aiden and Tristan Coles and Dylen and Harrison Belanger, easily qualified for Friday's final, cruising in at 3:30.07.
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