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McCurdy leaps to pole vault gold

 McCurdy keeps soaring to new heights


  Leaps to pole vault gold at Athletics Ontario U14/16/18 outdoor championships



  August 1, 2022


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By Rob J. Ross 

LONDON, Ont. - Libby McCurdy keeps reaching new heights.

The 15-year old from Sparta brought home her second provincial gold medal this within a week, winning the U16 girls' pole vault, at Athletics Ontario outdoor championships, at Western University.

McCurdy, with London-Western Club, set a personal best clearing three metres, a week after winning gold, at the Ontario Summer Games with a leap of 2.80 metres.

"The higher I go, the more fun it gets and makes me want to keep going," McCurdy said. "I think just motivation helped me get higher. My biggest competition is myself and no matter what place I get, I always feel very proud when I beat my previous PB."

At this meet, the U16 and U18 athletes were in the same group for pole vault.

"It felt nice because I was the only one left with U16 girls, vaulting and beating some of the U18 girls," McCurdy said.

The St. Joseph's student only started vaulting in early May, but already has two gold medals, along with an OFSAA silver, from the high school year.

"What contributed to her success would be her gymnastics background, strong work ethic to succeed and she's a competitor. She knows how to tap into what I call tunnel vision when she competes," said coach Rachel Wolfs, a retired vaulter and former Canadian University National champion. "She has the right balance between staying focused and having fun and those two things in pole vault are important."

This Friday, McCurdy will be competing in the Legion Youth Nationals, in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

"I hope she goes in with the mentality to have fun and to not put any extra pressure on herself to do well," Wolfs said. "Just to trust her training and do what she’s been doing all season."

In her second event, McCurdy placed 11th, in long jump (3.85 metres).

Matthew Piekny, of St. Thomas, won silver, in U18 boys pole vault, with a PB effort of 3.50 metres. The St. Joseph's high school student only started training in the event one month ago.

"He's naturally gifted very athletic," Wolfs said. "He's able to pick up on the event very quick has great body awareness in the air."

Piekny competed in high jump during the high school season, advancing to the OFSAA West regional, where he placed eighth.

"Feels really good. I've been very fast to pick it up and hope to continue improving as I have more time with it," Piekny said "I got into pole vault through my coach. After a successful track season, coach Wolfs convinced me to do it. I thought I might be good at it, as I'm naturally athletic and had already done technical events like high jump, which requires great body control and athleticism."

Wolfs is a busy coach, training several vaulters, including Sophia Bryenton, who won U18 girls' silver, Mackenna Suzuki, U16 girls' bronze and Larissa Birtch, who placed fifth.


Two medals for Stevens

Evan Stevens, of Thorndale, took bronze, in U16 men's javelin, with a best throw of 41.20 metres.

"Today I didn't throw great. Still got bronze, pretty lucky for that," said Stevens, who has PB of 44.71 metres, set when he won silver at OFSAA in June. "I lost the tip on a couple throws and was too close to the line. I got one 40 there and that was all I needed."

Stevens has been adjusting his technique and run-up to the line, at practices with London-Western.

"First time using it (in competition)," said Stevens. "I'm still getting used to it."

Stevens had a busy meet, competing in five events, but went home with two AO medals.

The Lord Dorchester secondary school student heading into grade 10,  finished ninth, in the 300-metre dash, in a PB time of 39.80 seconds, 12th, in the 100-metre dash (12.36 sec.) and 14th, in the 200-metre dash (25.59 sec.). Then the 15-year old joined London-Western teammates Francis Hinnah, Daniel Gaede and Samuel McClelland, to win a silver medal, in the U16 boys' 1600-metre sprint medley relay race.


Heptathlete Luna fourth

Jadyn Luna, of Thorndale, set a PB placing fourth, in the U20 women's heptathlon, amassing 3,905 points.

"It was all over the place, but I ended up PB'ing by 99 points. Overall I'm happy," said Luna, who trains with London-Western. "Long jump was my best. I jumped 5.03 metres, which was 50 centimetres more than last time. That was 100 per cent my best event. I still feel high jump was my worst, but was only two centimetres lower than last time. But compared to everyone else. I got last in that one."

Luna only made 1.26 metres in high jump, while the event winner, teammate Stevie Davis, leaped 1.71 metres, making it a long wait watching for Luna.

"I think I waited for a hour and a half (for high jump to finish). It was a long time. There's nothing I can do about it, but try to make up points in the next event," said Luna. "I need to work on finishing my take off, because as soon as I get up off the ground, I immediately throw myself into the mat. I need to be driving my knee up and then looking over."

Luna was third best in long jump, shot put (10.06m), javelin (26.82m) and the 200-metre dash (26.69 sec).

"Next year my goal for the hep is to break 4000," said Luna, who is returning to Medway high school. "I feel if I can get a little bit farther in each event it will add up. If I get can 20, or 30 more points in each event, it will add up."

Her outdoor season over, Luna will continue in multi events, returning to the pentathlon for the indoor season.

"I like competing in multis because you're with the same people for two days. You get to know them and it's kind of like hanging out with a group of friends,' Luna said. "It's friendly competition."

Davis won the U20 heptathlon gold, the lone competitor over 5000 points, with 5,637. Robin Selkirk picked up the silver medal (4,675 points, and Rebecca Parker, the bronze (4,070 pts.).


AO round-up

Ryan Johnson, with Dorchester club, was 10th, in the U16 boys' 2000 metre run (6:20.56) and 13th, in the 1200-metre run (3:34.63). Kirk Hallman was 11th, in the U16 boys' 2000 (6:21.56) and 17th, in the 1200m (3:38.36).

Andrew Monteith, with London Legion club, finished 11th, in the U18 boys' 800-metre run (2:02.91) and 40th, in the 1500 metres (4:46.69). fair for the first place showdown.



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