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McCurdy provincial gold / indoor recap

McCurdy AO indoor pole vault champ


  Knelsen in the 1000, Roth in the 400, set school indoor track records,

  Stanat ranked top five U-Sports in shot put and weight throw  


  February 14, 2024


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Bronze medalist Promise Atkinson, left, with women's pole vault champion Libby McCurdy, at the Ontario Indoor U18 Athletics championships Febraury 11 in Toronto. McCurdy set a PB clearing 3.30 metres.



By Rob J. Ross 

ST. THOMAS - Not only did Libby McCurdy set a new personal best (PB), the Sparta resident now holds the best mark in the nation.

McCurdy cleared 3.30 metres winning women's pole vault at the Ontario Indoor U18 Athletics championships, February 10-11 at the Toronto track and field centre.

The measurement puts the 16-year old number one in Canada for the U18 women's division.

"It was fun," said McCurdy, who trains with London-Western Club. "I've been going to practice more and trying to get on bigger  poles (in length)."

McCurdy had the additional challenge of using a competitor's pole, as her club's poles were left at home.

Promise Atkinson of St. Thomas took home bronze in the event, jumping 3.05 metres.

Double gold again

A.J. Stanat of St. Thomas, once again won both men's shot put and weight throw at an indoor athletics meet this season.

The junior with the University of Windsor Lancers, increased his personal best (PB) to 16.77 metres winning shot put, at the Lancers Team Challenge meet Feb 9-10. His shot put throw gives Stanat the fourth best all-time distance at Windsor.



Stanat took the weight throw title with a best effort of 15.95 metres.

"I'm feeling pretty good thus far in the season and am still preparing for OUA's and U-Sports that are to come," Stanat said. "Weight throw didn't exactly go to plan, but I believe I made up for it in shot put with a fairly sizable PB."

Stanat sits second in the Canadian U-Sports university rankings in shot put (16.77m) and fifth for weight throw at 16.97 metres.

His shot put distance has auto qualified Stanat for the Canadian championships hitting the standard of 15.87 metres. If Stanat stays in the top 12 for weight throw, or meets the standard of 17.49m over the final two weeks of the season, Stanat will have two events.

"It feels great knowing that I'll be going to U-Sports and representing my school team on the national level," Stanat said. "I've worked very hard to be where I am right now, and know that my performances this season have certainly not been accidental. Everything that I've done has been carefully planned."

The plan started just under a year ago, after Stanat placed outside of the top 12 in both events.

"This goal of mine has dated back to last year where I wanted nothing more than to go, and was frustrated in finding out I just missed the cut-off," Stanat said. "It's part of the reason why I opted not to compete last summer (club season) and to solely focus on my training and lifting regime."

The Human Kinetics student spends summers training with St. Thomas Legion Club, with his coach and father Alex, a former thrower, who represented Canada.

"I wanted to shock everyone with the work I had put in," Stanat said. "I believe that I have, especially in tandem with the progress and additional work that I have continuously put in this season."

Stanat won both throwing events at a meet in Windsor mid January.

Windsor hosts the 2024 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) track and field championships, Feb. 23-24.

Winning double gold at the provincial meet on home turf is a real possibility for the Parkside C.I. graduate.

"I certainly wouldn't mind that," Stanat said.


Expand awards room

Mike Roth may need to create more space for all of his awards.

The 21-year old from St. Thomas, with the University of Texas - San Antonio, was named NCAA American Athletic Conference (AAC) men's track athlete of the week, for the week of February 4-11.

"I've never gotten it before, so it feels pretty rewarding," Roth said. "Last year I'd always get beat out slightly every time I had a good performance, so I'm glad I finally earned it."

Roth lowered his school record in the men's 400 metres to 46.34 seconds, at the Don Kirby Invitational, Feb.9, placing third in the race. Roth also finished eighth in the 200-metre sprint (21.24 sec.)

In the 400, Roth had the additional challenge of a loose starting block that caused him to slip as the gun went off.

"Couldn't let it ruin the race," Roth said. "I looked over to the official to see if they'd stop it, but they obviously didn't see. I just kept my composure and relaxed into the race."

The junior who hadn't competed since mid January due to injury is looking forward to the AAC championships later this month.

"I was forced to take time off due to the back of my knee," Roth said. "Did pool and bike workouts instead, so was pretty impressed with myself being able to work pass that. I will be getting back to practice these next two weeks, so I'm pretty confident going into conference."


Knelsen sets Western record

Hallee Knelsen from Malahide, set a personal time of two minutes and 43.68 seconds (2:43.68), shaving over two seconds off the Western Mustangs record (2:46.11) in the women's 1000 metres.



The junior with the Mustangs, placed third in a race Feb. 9 at the Boston University Valentine Invitational indoor athletics meet.

"I feel really good about it," Knelsen said. "I think around 600 is when I knew it would be a fast time since I'd never gone through that fast and I still felt really good."

Her time moves Knelsen to number two in the Canadian University (U-Sports) rankings for the 1000, and qualifies the 20-year old for the Canadian university championships (U-Sports), next month in Winnipeg.

Knelsen has also, the sixth fastest time (1:31.53) in the nation for the 600 metres.

"So far this season has been going really well and has just been getting better every meet, so I'm hoping to keep that trend going for OUA's and U-Sports," said Knelsen. "Definitely a lot better then last year. It's nice to go in to OUA's knowing my times have already secured my spots at Nationals."

Last season, Knelsen needed season best performances at OUAs to secure a spot in both races at the National level. At the 2023 U-Sports meet, Knelsen placed ninth in the 600 and 13th in the 1000.

"This year I felt a lot more prepared going into the season and have focused a lot on working on my speed and strength," Knelsen said. "OUAs will be competitive, but hoping to come away with medals in all of my events."

Along with the 600 and 1000, Knelsen will be on the Mustangs women's 4x400 and 4x800-metre relay teams.

The Health and Sciences student doesn't figure on setting another PB in the 1000 this season.

"Given that my school record was a huge PB, I haven't really been thinking about lowering it right now," said Knelsen. "I only have championship races left and those can be tactical and unpredictable, but planning on replicating it in terms of effort."


Double PBs

Aiden Coles set indoors PBs in the men's mile (4:06.22) and the 800-metre run (1:51.68) at meets with Iona University, Feb. 9 and 10th.

"I ran a couple pretty good PBs that I was happy with for where I'm at," said Coles. "It's been some time since I ran a personal best in the mile or 1500m, so pretty comforting knowing that I've been able to get into this kind of shape while only running strength work."

Next up are the NCAA Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) indoor championships, Feb.24, in New York City.

"I will likely be racing the 800m and 4x800m. Last year I placed second in the 800m and first in the 4x800m, so I'd like to win both this year. I'd also like to take a crack at sub 1:50 in the final, if I am able to qualify."


AO Open/U18 championships

St. Thomas Legion Club had seven athletes at Athletics Ontario 2024 Open and U18 indoor championships, Feb. 10-11, the Toronto track and field centre.

Aiyana John, age 15, won bronze in women's high jump, with a best effort of 1.45 metres.

Fletcher Taylor, U18 men's, fifth, high jump (1.60m), 11th, long jump (5.38m)

Ty Wilson, U18 men's, eighth, 60-metre dash (7.15 sec.), 10th, 200m (23.56 sec.)
Andrew Monteith, open men's, 11th, 400m (54.12. sec.), 14th, 800m (2:02.95).

Emma Westbrook, open women's, eighth, long jump (4.42m).

Alyssa Gordon, open women's, ninth, long jump (4.18m), 15th, 60m (8.82 sec.)

Alexis Gray, U18 women's, 41st, 400m (1:08.24), 76th, 200m (29.57 sec.)

Two athletes from Thorndale, with London-Western Club competed.

Evan Stevens, U18 men's, ninth, long jump (5.48m), 15th, 60m hurdles (9.81 sec.).

Ryan Johnson, U18 men's, 14th, 3000m (9:40.18)


Lancers meet

Brody Fodor from Shedden, had a pair of top five results, at the Lancer team challenge, Feb. 9-10, at the University of Windsor.

Fodor, with the Western Mustangs, placed fourth in weight throw (13.94m) and fifth in shot put (13.24m).

Mason Basson from Sparta, with the Guelph Gryphons, finished eighth in the men's 1000-metre run (2:30.59).

Brianna Rand of Dorchester, with the Mustangs, placed eighth in women's long jump (5.44m) and ninth in triple jump (11.36m.).

Claireese Coffey from St. Thomas, with Western, was 14th in women's long jump (5.24m).

Tegan Ceccanese from Dorchester, with the Laurier Hawks, finished 25th in the women's 1000 metre run (3:16.24).


Track notes

Hannah McIntyre from Dorchester, placed 27th, in the women's 1000 metres (2:58.37), Feb. 9 at the Boston University Valentine Invitational indoor athletics meet.

Paige Marchand of London, with Eastern Michigan, set the Canadian U20 women's record for the indoor mile finishing in 4:38.91.