Eagles' Knelsen in the junior women's 800 metres and Beavers' Rand
in the midget women's 300 hurdles run away with hardware
Saturday, June 8, 2019
GUELPH, ON. - Since last summer East Elgin Eagle Hallee Knelsen and Chatham-Kent's Emma Pegg have formed a friendship. Well, aside for about those two minutes and 14 seconds every time they step on to the track for an 800 metre race.
Pegg and Knelsen finished one-two in the junior women's 800 metre run, on day three of OFSAA track and field, at Guelph University.
Pegg wins the 800 for a second year in a row, while Knelsen moves up from a bronze medal as a midget competitor.
"I knew Emma would have the kick. As long as I stayed with her I'd be happy," said Knelsen. "It wasn't the best time but it was really windy on the home stretch. I wasn't planning on leading but then I just went and everyone tucked in behind me."
The Grade 10 athletes got to know each other well at various meets last summer. Then over the winter, Knelsen invited Pegg to the St. Thomas Legion club's training camp in Florida.
"We've become good friends," said Pegg. "We know each other's strengths and weaknesses, so it's tough competing with her because we know each other so well, but it's good to train with her. Hallee is definitely better at leading and setting a good pace. They call her the split machine (at practice). I know she is a lot better at pacing, so all I hope for is a better kick at the end."
Pegg's kick won't deter Knelsen from trying to beat the two-time OFSAA 800 champion, who also won the 1500-metre run this year. After it was noted Knelsen improved from a bronze last year to a silver medal, Knelsen jokingly said to her friend, "Watch out Emma, I'm coming for the gold medal."
Knelsen was also satisfied to conclude her track season with a OFSAA medal, after having a tough race at OFSAA cross country last November.
"My cross country season didn't end so well so it was definitely good to have a good comeback. I feel I redeemed myself."
Dorchester's Brianna Rand set a personal best (PB) time of 45.44 seconds grabbing the silver medal in the midget women's 300-metre hurdles. Sitting about fifth place, with 90 metres to go, Rand strapped on the jet pack moving up three positions.
"It feels really good. I didn't really expect it but I'm really excited," said Rand. "My coaches tell me that I have a kick at the end. I always find myself behind until then. I just pick it up at the end."
Rand shed the nerves during the qualifying heats.
"I wasn't as nervous as for the heats because I was already top eight. I didn't really have anything to lose. I just ran as hard as I could," added Rand, who just eight races on her hurdling resume.
"When she starts slowly her hurdle technique isn't as good as when she's going for it," Dorchester coach James Tennant said. "Then she realized she was behind and put it into high gear and her form improved as she was attacking the hurdles.
"An awesome result. I'm really proud of her."
Tennant adds a lot of credit goes to Emily Patterson and her hurdle group at Lord Dorchester, for teaching the discipline, along with former Beavers Megan Dunn and Katie Beaudry, who dropped in offering tips at practice.
"It was a team effort, but 95 per cent of it goes to Brianna wanting to do well," said Tennant. "She tried it, liked it and went forward. At her first race, she was 49 (seconds) and we were like, that's awesome."
Rand lengthens the list of OFSAA medal winning 300-metre midget female hurdlers from Dorchester, including gold medalist Amanda Spriel and Katie Beaudry, who brought home bronze in 2014.
Parkside's Mason Basson just missed the podium for the midget men's 800 metre run, finishing fourth.
"A big PB. I came into the competition with a 2:03 and I shaved three seconds off. I'm happy with that," said Basson. "First lap I went out way faster than I usually do. I usually go out at one minute, or 1:01, but I came out at (about) 58-59 (seconds). With 300 (metres) left I was building my speed up and with 100 left it was all I had left in the tank. It was part of my race strategy. I'm really with my 800."
Basson added his sixth place in high jump was unexpected but set a PB of 1.75 metres.
Parkside's Micheal Roth placed ninth, in the senior men's 200 metres, one spot from qualifying for the final.
St. Joseph's Aiden Coles was 10th, in the midget men's 3000 metres, the same spot Harrison Belanger placed in the midget men's 800 metres.
Dorchester's Connor Erb and Owen Pink, finished 14th and 19th, respectively, in the junior men's 3000 metres.
"It was really exciting," said Erb. "I was a little nervous. It wasn't a great race but I'm really glad I got the experience and hopefully I can get back next year."
Erb has now three OFSAA appearances, including two in cross country. For Pink, it's back to back 3000 metre races at OFSAA , as well as OFSAA cross country last fall.
"They keep progressing," coach Tennant said. "We have our up and downs with races, but they keep progressing. These guys are now consistently top 20 guys (in the province)."
Unfortunately, Dorchester's Leaha Johnston, the West regional champion, fouled out of the junior women's javelin competition, with no recorded distance.
Kyra Vellinga, a St. Thomas Legion club runner, who attends Chatham Christian high school, finished ninth in the junior women's 300-metre hurdles (47.25 seconds) after also placing ninth in the 400 metres (59.47 sec.).