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AO 2022 U20 and Open Outdoors

 Knelsen defends two U20 race titles


   Repeats as the 800 and 1500-metre champion at Athletics Ontario outdoor meet

   as St. Thomas Legion athletes bring home seven medals; Coles golden twice

   The Coles brothers and Knelsen prepare for the U20 Canadians



  June 14, 2022


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By Rob J. Ross 

TORONTO, Ont. - Hallee Knelsen successfully defended her gold medal in both of her races.

The 19-year old from Malahide, defended her gold medal, in both the women's 800 and 1500 metre races, at Athletics Ontario's 2022 U20 outdoor championships, June 8-10, at York University.

"I kind of soloed them both," said Knelsen. "I was hoping for faster times."

Knelsen won the 800 in two minutes and 9.61 seconds (2:09.61), almost three seconds ahead of runner-up Olivia Dodds. It was a similar margin of victory for Knelsen in the 1500 metres, taking gold in 4:36.91.

"I haven't ran a 15 in almost a year, so it was good to do it again, but definitely have to get use to some 15 pacing again," Knelsen said. "The eight, I considered moving up to be in a faster race (open division), but it's good. I need to be able to lead races as well. Work on the tactics. I didn't go overly fast. I didn't go out that hard, but tried to keep it consistent. Usually when I feel like I'm dying, I can keep that pace going a little longer."

At the 2021 U20 meet held last July, Knelsen won both races, the 800 in 2:09.16 and the 1500 in 4:34.03.

Next up for Knelsen, is the Canadian U20 track and field championships, in Langley, B.C., June 22-26.

A goal of making Team Canada in the 800 metres, for the World Athletics U20 championships, in Cali, Columbia, August 2-7, remains for the Malahide resident. Knelsen met the qualifying time for the 800, of 2:07.2, at an indoor meet in Boston, earlier this year.

"I'm really excited for Nationals and hopefully the legs will feel a little more energetic," Knelsen said. "If I win, I will get to automatically go to world juniors. A win would be nice, but I would say I want to get top two. Hopefully run a fast time. Maybe get under standard in the outdoor season."

Knelsen was one of five athletes from St. Thomas Legion Club, who brought home medals from the AO U20 meet.

A.J. Stanat, of St. Thomas, won three silvers, placing second in men's discus, shot put and hammer throw.

"It was a great start to the season outdoors. I'm content on how the weekend turned out," said Stanat. "Overall, I'm happy to be here and able to compete again outside."

Stanat set a PB of 50.64 metres in hammer.

"I'm really happy about that. Still some technical elements to piece together for my throws," Stanat said.

In shot, Stanat had a best effort of 15.01 metres, while in discus, landed a throw of 43.72 metres.

"I'm still relatively new at spinning in shot put, so I definitely have to focus more on some technical elements there," Stanat said. "Making sure I'm upright when I'm throwing, that I'm actually looking upward, I'm not slouching down, so I can get some decent height on my throws."

Stanat now eyes Canada Summer Games qualifying and throwing heavier implements. Shot and hammer, for example, each weighing six kilograms at U20s, are 7.26 kilograms at the open division.

"I'll be competing against a lot more older competition and seasoned, experienced competition," Stanat said. "It'll be a tough transition at first, but all in all, it'll be a good one."

Dylen Belanger, took silver in the men's 400-metre hurdles and finished fifth, in the 110-metre hurdles.

"It felt really good until the last hurdle when I kind of lost my rhythm and had to go on my bad leg and it kind of slowed me down," Belanger said. "Getting out I felt good. I feel the start of the race went as planned and even coming around the turn I felt a constant, good rhythm. It was just towards the end I lost focus."

The St. Thomas native now prepares for the Canadian Track and Field League championship meet, in Ottawa, July 20.

"I feel leading up to the CFTL championship, I can cut off more time still," Belanger said. "I still feel I can improve, although I've come from 57 seconds to 55 low, 54 high. I've definitely came a long way, but feel I have more potential."

Tayah DeSousa won silver in women's long jump (5.41 metres) and placed fourth, in the 100-metre hurdles (14.89 seconds).

Mason Basson brought home bronze, from the men's 1500 metres (4:02.66) and placed fourth, in the 800 metres (1:53.91).

Brady Fodor, in the open men's division, placed fourth, in hammer throw (33.64m) and seventh, in shot put (12.79m).

Jenna Gervais, finished 14th, in the open women's 100-metre hurdles (21.93 sec.).

Brothers win relay

Aiden and Tristan Coles, of St. Thomas, finished one-two, in the men's 800 metres.

The brothers, who train with London-Western Club members, concluded their meet, by winning the men's 4x400-metre relay race, with fellow St. Thomas natives, Harrison Belanger and Vincent Moore.

Aiden won the 800 in 1:51.71, with Tristan on his heels, at 1:51.97.

"My time was little slower than I would have liked," Aiden said. "I still PB'd by a second, but was still 0.7 off the world standard, which was unfortunate.

Both Coles are aiming to qualify for the World Juniors and are both heading to the Canadian track and field championships, next week.

"I'm super pumped for that. I get to race some guys I haven't raced before," Aiden said. "I'm doing the 1500 and possibly the 5000. Depends how I feel. I won't try to do anything crazy in the 5K, if I do race it. Just run it and have fun."

This meet is the first track Nationals for both brothers.

"I was never able to to do Legion Nationals in the past, so being able to go out to B.C. is really, really exciting," Aiden said.

"I'm really excited for that," Tristan said. "I'm easily in the best shape of my life. My coach (Dave Mills) feels I'm on the rise in my training right now and on a really good route to run some good PBs."

The Coles will be gunning to meet the 1500-metre standard for junior worlds, at a twilight meet in Hamilton, June 17.

"We'll try to get world standard there," Tristan said. "We're trying to be one and two in Canada, although we know Riley ran really fast at OFSAA."

That Riley, is Riley Flemington, of Oakville, who took gold medal in the 1500 metres at OFSAA, winning in 3:46.85, ahead of Aiden and Tristan, who finished two-three (3:49.07 and 3:51.07, respectively).

Moore finished 15th, in the 800 metres (1:58.51) and 21st, in the 1500 (4:19.29). Harrison Belanger was 17th, in the 1500 (4:16.55) and 20th, in the 800 (1:59.83).

Jadyn Luna, of Thorndale, with London-Western, in the U20 women's division, placed sixth, in long jump (5.02m), seventh, in shot put (9.75m) and 11th, in the 100-metre hurdles (16.20 sec.).



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