Local runner lowers her PB time qualifying in the women's 800 metre race
at the Johnny Loaring Classic, an open track and field meet
Sunday, May 19, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
Hallee Knelsen has given herself an opportunity to compete at her first international event.
Knelsen, 15, running with the St. Thomas Legion track and field club, won her heat with a personal best time of 2:11.48, placing seventh overall, in the open women's 800 metre run, at the Johnny Loaring Classic, Saturday, at Windsor University.
Her time meets the qualifying standard (2:13.50) for the U18 NACAC (North America, Central America and Caribbean) track and field championships, July 5-7, in Querétaro, Mexico.
In early June, Athletics Canada will select a team of 25 from those athletes meeting qualifying standards in various disciplines.
Knelsen shaved three seconds of her personal best time, of 2:14.76, set just two days earlier at the Thames Valley Regional Athletics championships.
"It was crazy how for a long time I was trying to break 2:14, then I just came out with a 2:11," Knelsen said. "I was in shock because I didn't expect to go down that much. I felt really cool."
The student at East Elgin Secondary school said she had a good feeling heading into the race and that sentiment was shared by Legion coach Harry Stantsos.
"I felt good. Harry came over and said this is going to be the one," said Knelsen. "I was trying to break 2:13.50. When I was at 400 metres, my split was faster than usual. I was then thinking, how fast can I go? I knew then unless I completely died off that I would have a good time. I just kept that pace and at 600 metres I was still on pace, I was confident (to meet the standard)."
Knelsen may have had a faster time if she was in the second heat, which featured faster seeded runners, including Jordan Anderson, 26, who won the race, finishing in 2:07.47.
"I was leading (her heat) by 150 metres and didn't look back, so I ran it by myself. There was no one to catch," said Knelsen.
Now Knelsen must wait until the committee names the 25-person team to represent Canada.
"I don't if I'll be selected, but to know that I have a chance at that, is really cool," said Knelsen.
Knelsen was one of four St. Thomas Legion athletes attempting to meet standards.
Michael Roth set a personal best time of 49.38 seconds in the 400 men's metres and had times of 22.24 seconds and 22.51 seconds for the men's 200 metre sprint but missed the required standard for both races (49.25 seconds and 22.05 seconds).
Tayah De Sousa had a personal best time of 14.62 seconds in the women's 100-metre hurdles, but missed the standard of 14.25 seconds. A solid effort for the Central Elgin C.I, student, considering De Sousa has been training for the 80-metre hurdles during the high school season.
De Sousa also set a PB in the women's 200-metre sprint.
Lily Francis competed in the women's 100-metre hurdles, high jump and long jump.
Stantsos said Francis' events were additional competition as the St. Andre Bessette student is coming off of an injury.
As for Knelsen, Stantsos said, "After this performance she has a very good chance of making this team."
At the meet, Knelsen met Melissa Bishop, a two-time Olympian, who holds the Canadian women's record for the 800-metres and Brandon McBride, the male record holder in the 800 metres for Canada.