The 18-year old Malahide resident wins bronze in the women's 600 metres and
two relay silvers with the Western Mustangs, at the OUA track championships
while Windsor Lancer AJ Stanat ends his freshman year with a PB
March 20, 2022
By Rob. J. Ross
TORONTO, Ont. - Two silver medals, one bronze and a fourth place finish.
Hallee Knelsen had an impressive first appearance, at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) indoor track and field championships, at the Toronto track and field centre, at York University, March 18-19.
The 18-year old freshman with the Western Mustangs won a bronze medal, in the women's 600-metre run, silver medals in both the women's 4x800 and 4x400 metre relay races and finished fourth in the women's 1000 metre run.
Her points helped the Mustangs' women finish second as a team.
"It was really good for my first OUs. I was hoping for an individual medal which I did and definitely the team medals and the 4x4 and 4x8 and we did that," Knelsen said. "I knew it was going to be a challenge to do the four races all within 24 hours. It was tough, but beating my outdoor PB in the 400 shows I'm definitely capable of it. Overall, a really good two days."
Knelsen grabbed her first individual medal in the 600, finishing in one minute 33.16 seconds (1:33.16), with an impressive final lap of of three, catching teammate Favour Okpali over the final 40 metres.
"I wanted to get out more aggressively but I didn't. I made up for that in the second lap which was my fastest. I made a big move to put myself into fourth," Knelsen said. "It was my own teammate, so any way one of us would have got third, but I just really wanted that medal, especially after yesterday coming so close."
In the 1000 metres, on day one of the meet, Knelsen was edged by 22-year old Nina Whitford of the Guelph Gryphons, for third place, by five one-hundredths of a second, finishing in 2:52.79.
"It was very tactical. It was a very slow start. It was pretty much a 300 metre sprint for placement," Knelsen said. "I was boxed-in (early), so there was no way I could get out. No one was going, so I waited until the hammer dropped and went as fast as I could."
Whitford was initially disqualified for contact on Knelsen earlier in the race, but Guelph won an appeal.
Jazz Shukla, 23, of the University of Toronto won the race in 2:50.06, with 24-year old Sadie-Jane Hickson of the Gryphons, finishing second in 2:51.26.
Knelsen, along with teammates Chloe Hewitt and sisters, Sophie and Chloe Coutts, brought home a silver in the 4x800m, finishing in 8:57.67, four seconds behind Hickson and the Gryphons.
For the 4x4, Knelsen and Hewitt were joined by Okpali and Rosemary Holmes, taking the silver medal in 3:48.35, again behind Hickson and those Gryphons.
"The 4x4 was really exciting," Knelsen said. "I thought we had a shot at medaling, but didn't know we would get second."
Knelsen had laps of 27.375 seconds and 29.252, for a 400 metre time of 56.63 seconds.
The Malahide resident and graduate of East Elgin Secondary school, has impressed fellow rookies and veteran teammates.
"I'm really happy for her. She's been working really hard," Sophie Coutts said. "She's a great competitor. She always pushes me in workouts. She's also really supportive. I love training with her. She's always positive and encouraging."
Coutts has known Knelsen since their grade nine years in high school. At the OFSAA track and field championships, in 2019, Knelsen finished second in the junior women's 800 metre final, one spot ahead of Coutts.
"We came from different training backgrounds," Coutts said. "I came from more of a distance background and she came from more a sprint back ground. We definitely compliment each other when we workout. We really push each other."
Adds Hewitt, a senior member on both relay teams.
"Hallee is a very strong racer and is able to keep calm in any race situation. She runs with a lot of confidence and has proven that she can be up there with the top athletes," Hewitt said. "As a relay member, Hallee brings a positive energy, and I know that she always gives her best effort for the team."
Knelsen will have the four races at the U Sports championships, March 30-April 1, in Saint John, New Brunswick.
"Both of our relays are in good contention for medals and I'll do my best as an individual. I like to make the 600 final and hopefully run a couple PBs." Knelsen said.
"It's (season) gone by really fast with the late start and competing every weekend. Recovering a little more before U Sports, will be really good to get some fast times there."
Twenty-five year old Sydney Smith, of the Ottawa GeeGees, won the 600 in 1:30.37, followed by Hickson, in 1:30.55.
Stanat ends season with PB
A.J. Stanat concluded his first year with a personal best effort in men's shot put.
The 18-year old St. Thomas native, with the Windsor Lancers, placed eighth with a distance of 14.06 metres
"An excellent feeling with a PB. I reached my goal of hitting 14 metres,' Stanat said. "It feels good to peak at the right time of the season. I was happy to make the top eight and get three more throws. I'm happy how things turned out for shot put."
In weight throw, Stanat was 10th, with a measurement of 13.18 metres. A throw that would have been his best distance landed just out of bounds.
His first year at the university level provided Stanat a few lessons.
"It's fast pace and a heavy work load. We're training every day. We have competitions every weekend. It's a change from high school track and club track," Stanat said.
"A lot of technical fixes. The coaches did a great job making sure I was listening to the feedback and listening to the cues they were giving me so I could work to improve.
Stanat will be back with St. Thomas Legion Club for
the summer outdoor season.
Around the NCAA
Tayah DeSousa, placed third overall in women's long jump (5.64 metres) and fifth, in the 100-metre hurdles (14.4 seconds), with Long Beach University, Saturday, at the USC Invitational outdoor track and field meet in Los Angeles.
The 18-year old St. Thomas native also placed 18th in the 200-metre dash (26.81 seconds).
Michael Roth, of St. Thomas, finished third, in the men's 400-metre dash, clocking in at 47.38 seconds, with University of Texas-San Antonio, Saturday, at the UTSA Invitational, in San Antonio, Texas.