Central Elgin's Onyema, Parkside's Mason Basson and Dorchester's Brianna Rand
and Leaha Johnston win events at OFSAA West regional track and field
Saturday, June 1, 2019
CAMBRIDGE, ON. - No better way to advance to OFSAA than winning an event with a personal best effort.
Four local athletes, Dorchester's Leaha Johnston and Brianna Rand, Parkside's Mason Basson and Central Elgin's Hannah Onyema, did just that feat and are now heading to the provincial high school meet as event champions, from day two of the OFSAA West regional track and field meet, at Jacob Hespeler high school.
Johnston won junior women's javelin, Rand finished first in the midget women's 300-metre hurdles and Onyema took the junior women's shot put crown.
Basson won the midget men's 800-metre run and was second in high jump, a day after finishing third in the 1500 metres, qualifying for OFSAA in all three events.
The top four in each event from the regional meet, advance to this year's Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships, June 6-8, at the University of Guelph.
In total from both days of the meet, 14 athletes in 23 events, representing Central Elgin, Dorchester, East Elgin Parkside and St. Joseph's high schools, advanced to OFSAA.
Johnston wasted no time making her mark in javelin, throwing a personal best distance of 33.92 metres on her first attempt. Her next throw of 35.63 metres increased the PB and put Johnston in first place, a position she wouldn't relinquish.
"I'm surprised. Amazing but surprising. I love it," said Johnston, who was seeded fifth entering the competition. "I wasn't expecting to get that big of a PB."
Johnston, who placed 12th at OFSAA last year at the midget level (28.41m), beat the OFSAA champion Amy Schmit, of Medway high school.
This year Johnston feels there will be higher expectations.
"I think its going to be a lot more stress. Last year I was ranked low, so I was just going to OFSAA and have a fun time," said Johnston. "This year I'm going to have a higher ranking because I placed first. When you're ranked higher, you feel the need to do better."
Onyema stood top of the podium with her PB of 12.68 metres in junior women's shot put, for her first gold at the regional meet.
"Another good day. I pieced together everything. I feel I did almost everything that I was being taught in practice leading up to this. It came together today," said Onyema. "I remember my coaches saying that my arm was fully extended. That was the big one. My arm was fully extended. I was using a lot more power. I just need to remember to get my foot underneath and really use my legs."
The Titan placed second in discus yesterday, also with a PB effort.
"Every time since TVRA I've been PBing so that's really good."
Onyema is aiming for a better OFSAA than last year where she did place ninth in midget women's shot put (11.11m), but failed to record a measurement in discus.
"Definitely in discus because I faulted all the way through," said Onyema. "Shot put was ok."
Onyema is the first thrower from CECI to win at the regional meet, a feat considering the Titan just started competing a year ago.
"She's not a club athlete and that's another thing that's impressive about Hannah's win," Titans' coach Scott King said. "She's a traditional high school athlete. She just does it during the season. That makes her achievements even more impressive. She really only works at this for two months and then she does volleyball, music and all of her other things."
But Onyema continues to reach set benchmarks in both disciplines, aided by King and coach Kyle Rolph, from Parkside.
"Throwing is all about building," said King. "You want to build and build and build. Hannah has not only built, but hit PBs and exceeded our expectations. She's becoming more comfortable every day and that relaxing in to it has allowed her to have that success."
Basson, the only competitor from Elgin County to qualify for OFSAA in three events, capped his meet off by winning the midget men's 800 metres in 2:03.41.
"I just wanted to make it to OFSAA in one event (800 metres), but now I'm going for three. I'm surprised," said Basson. "It's going to be a busy OFSAA."
The Stampeder won the 800 by a full three seconds.
"The 800 is definitely my favourite. I have the most knowledge and experience in that," said Basson. "I could hear them behind me, but I was comfortable with my run."
In high jump, Basson cleared 1.73 metres, two centimetres lower than his PB and three back of event winner Taydon Shantz, of Baden Waterloo-Oxford.
Basson finished third in the 1500 metre run on day one.
Rand won the 300 hurdles by almost a full second, the only competitor under 47 seconds, finishing with a new PB of 46.10 seconds.
"I'm really excited. I didn't know that I would get this far when the season first started, so it feels really good," said Rand. ""I thought I had a really good race. It was close around the (final bend), then one of the girls beside me fell. I just took off from there and I was really happy because there was no one beside me."
For OFSAA, Rand hopes to advance from the heats.
"I really want to try to make it to the final," said Rand. "I feel this is probably one of my best accomplishments. In elementary school, I would go to the finals, but that doesn't really compare to OFSAA.
Competing for Northdale Central in Dorchester, Rand competed in triple jump, the 100 metre dash and 400 metre run, at the TVDSB final meet.
In her second event, triple jump, Rand placed 13th, leaping 9.73 metres. Rand was over 10 metres at WOSSAA.
"I think I could have done better but my hurdles and triple jump were at the same time. So right after my race I had to go to triple jump. I was really tired."
Seven other day two top four OFSAA qualifiers
East Elgin Eagle Hallee Knelsen finished second in the junior women's 800 metres, in 2:12.26, behind Chatham-Kent's Emma Pegg, who blazed the way in 2:10.29. The rest of the field was seven seconds back of Knelsen.
"She has a strong kick. I knew if it came to a kick, she'd probably get me," said Knelsen, who led the first lap. "I don't like to lead, but I learned to take the risk this year. Me taking the first lap was really good."
Intense competitors on the track, Knelsen and Pegg have formed a friendship over the past year.
"We were always hanging out at meets together throughout the summer," said Knelsen. "We're best friends now. We trained in Florida on March Break. My club hosted the camp and I asked if she could come."
Pegg won the midget women's 800 at OFSAA last June, while Knelsen finished third.
Dorchester's Owen Pink and Connor Erb, placed second and fourth, respectively, in the junior men's 3000 metres. Pink was eager to return to OFSAA after placing 14th as a midget last year, while Erb wanted to add OFSAA track to his OFSAA cross country appearances.
"I really wanted to go back. It's a relief that I made it," said Pink, who worked his way from sixth to second with two laps remaining. "I just make all of the right moves. That's all what it was, very technical. Then all I had to do was hold on and I grinded out the last lap."
Erb resisted the urge to glance behind until the final straight-away.
"I didn't want to look back. I kept pushing and trying to catch people in front of me. At 200 metres I took a glance to see the competitor just far enough back," said Erb. "All the winter training has been for this single day. That's been the goal. I'm really happy."
East Elgin's Julie Nagelhout was fourth in midget javelin, tossing the implement 32.38 metres.
On day one, Nagelhout qualified third for OFSAA in long jump. She missed making it to OFSAA in three events, finishing 15th in triple jump.
St. Joseph's Harrison Belanger was third, in the midget men's 800 metres and Aiden Coles was fourth, in the midget men's 3000 metres.
"I had to work so hard that last 100 (metres)," said Belanger, battling in a pack of five runners for three qualifying spots, behind Basson. "This is what I have been training for, for about two months leading up to this. I'm happy to be going to OFSAA."
Parkside Stampeder Michael Roth finished second, in the senior men's 200-metre dash.
Other day two local results:
Dorchester's Hannah Freer, fifth, midget women's discus (30.2m); St. Joe's Ram Cerena Aitkin-Guignard, sixth, midget women's 3000 metres (11:44.28); St. Joe's Ram Claireese Coffey, sixth, midget women's triple jump (10.25m); Dorchester's Dilpreet Sandhu, seventh, junior men's 800 metres (2:07.56); Dorchester's Colson Erb, seventh, senior men's 800 metres (1:58.11); St. Joe's Ram Brent Hagerty, eighth, midget men's 800 metres (2:09.53); Central Elgin Titan Sydney Gee, eighth, junior women's javelin (28.49m); St. Joe's Ram Ethan Dolby, 10th, midget men's 200 metre dash (24.71 sec.); Dorchester's Abbey Downing, 10th, junior women's pole vault (2.50m); Dorchester's Brianna Rand, 13th, midget women's triple jump (9.73m); East Elgin Eagle Caitlyn Evely, 13th, senior women's 400-metre hurdles (1:12.29); East Elgin Eagle Julie Nagelhout, 15th, midget women's triple jump (9.51m); Jadyn Luna, of Thorndale, with Medway high school, seventh, midget women's 200 metre dash (27.32 sec.), 11th, 300-metre hurdles (50.36 seconds).