With top four performances at the West regional track and field meet
ten athletes will compete in 15 events at the OFSAA championships
Saturday June 2, 2018
By Rob J. Ross
WINDSOR, ON - They have reached the pinnacle of the high school track and field season, the OFSAA championships.
Ten athletes from the St. Thomas - Elgin County and Dorchester area, will be competing with the best in the province, after placing top four in their events, at the OFSAA West regional meet, at the University of Windsor Stadium, June 1-2.
The OFSAA track and field championships, are at the Pan Am Stadium and Metro Track Centre, in Toronto, June 7-9.
Central Elgin Titan Tayah De Sousa won midget women's long jump and finished second in the 80-metre hurdles, while Parkside Stampeder Arthur (AJ) Stanat had the gold medal winning throw in midget men's discus and took home silver in shot put.
St. Joseph's Ram Liam Clark won the senior men's 400-metre hurdles and finished fourth in the 110-metre hurdles.
For more on the champions, see Regional gold.
Each school from the local area that had athletes at regionals, will be represented at OFSAA.
East Elgin Eagle Hallee Knelsen (midget women's 800 and 1500 metres) and Central Elgin Titan Hannah Onyema (midget women's shot put and discus), both qualified in two events.
Also qualifying - Dorchester Beavers' Leaha Johnston (midget women's javelin) and Owen Pink (midget men's 3000 metres), Parkside's Jack Carlson (midget men's 400 metres) and Anij Sparenberg (junior women's discus) and Central Elgin Titan Hayden Bell (senior men's high jump).
The last East Elgin female runner to qualify for OFSAA track and field is now more than twice the age of the school's current track star.
Knelsen finished second in the 800 metres (2:18.61) and third in the 1500 metres (4:55.24).
"My coach (John Loney) said the last time we had a distance girl from our school go, she's now 32 years old," Knelsen said. "I had a PB today in the 800. The girl (Chatham-Kent's Emma Pegg) who won ran a 2:15 (to win), just last week she was running 2:19 and I thought that was insanely fast. Now I beat it."
Knelsen didn't set a PB in the 1500, but is aiming for that time on the big stage.
"I have high hopes for OFSAA, hopefully make the final for both of my events."
Onyema brought home bronze medals from both midget women's shot put and discus.
"It feels really great. That's all I can think of right now," Onyema said. "I wasn't sure I was going to make it after seeing some of the girls throw, but I did."
In both of her events, Onyema waited until her sixth and final attempt to unleash her best throws.
Sitting fifth in shot put, with a best throw of 10.95 metres, Onyema stepped in to the circle and putted a distance of 11.69 metres, moving her up two positions and qualifying for OFSAA. Brantford's Alexa Windle won the event with a meet record throw of 12.20 metres.
"The first five rounds I was nervous because I wasn't throwing my best," Onyema said. "But on my sixth throw I knew I had to get higher to move on, so I put it all out there.
In even more remarkable style, Onyema repeated her final throw magic in discus, leaping from sixth to third place, tossing the disc 28.38 metres, over three metres better than her previous best throw.
"Hannah is specializing in giving us heart attacks at the last minute," said Titans' coach Scott King, with a laugh. "Mental toughness is a big part of throwing and Hannah has shown multiple times this season, she has mental toughness to pull through on that last throw. It's a combination of mental toughness, a really positive attitude and a willingness to be coached and make the changes immediately to be successful."
Returning to OFSAA, but in a different event, is Bell, after a third place showing in senior men's high jump, clearing 1.93 metres.
"I would have liked another PB but you can't do it every day," said Bell, who had a personal best effort of 1.96 metres, at WOSSAA. "I'm happy with (qualifying for OFSAA). That was my goal. I always wanted too and I've been close, but I did it today."
At his second event, pole vault, Bell placed 12th (2.75 metres).
Two years ago at OFSAA, Bell placed 10th, in the junior men's 100-metre hurdles.
Sparenberg returns to OFSAA in junior women's discus, hoping to capture the magic from a year ago in Belleville. As a midget competitor Sparenberg won OFSAA silver in javelin and placed sixth in discus.
At regionals, Sparenberg placed second with a best throw of 31.78 metres, but short of her personal best distance. Wingham Madill's Hanna Van Stuyvenberg won with a 39.46 metre throw.
"I really wanted to go. Javelin didn't go so well this year, so I'm glad I made it in for discus," said Sparenberg. "I threw well. I had a lot of power but I didn't get my chin and chest up at the end so I could throw farther. I threw 36 (metres) at one meet. The goal is to get to that distance at OFSAA. Where I end up (placement wise), I don't care because it's still OFSAA."
In her second event, Sparenberg placed 12th in shot put with best throw of 10.57 metres, short of her 12 metre goal.
It was a tough year for Sparenberg in javelin, unable to advance from WOSSAA, due to an injury and lack of practice.
Dorchester's Johnston had a great week of practice leading up to regionals, but the freshman still shocked coach Jen Ashby, with a four meter personal best.
Johnston's third round throw of 29.33 metres put her in third place and only the top two, LaSalle Sandwich's Kira Juodikis (35.37m) and Arva Medway's Amy Schmit (31.86m), threw farther.
"That was my PB by far. I probably shouldn't have thrown that far today. It is crazy," Johnston said. "It's amazing. I never would have thought I would have got this far, let alone OFSAA. It's unbelievable."
Practice on her run prior to throwing the javelin paid off.
"She has been working really hard all week on her (run way) footing and she really came through," Ashby said. "She put it all together today. I think she's having fun now and that's key too. "A four metre improvement is huge. She was relaxed. She didn't even react and I was like, Leaha, do you know what you just did?"
In her second event, midget women's shot put, Johnston was 10th.
"I did well (9.53 metres), but it was under my personal best so I was a little disappointed. This (javelin silver) makes up for it."
Owen Pink may give his coach James Tennant fits with his tendency to glance behind during races, but that didn't prevent Pink from finishing fourth in the midget men's 3000 metres.
"It's kind of a habit. I get told a lot by Mr. Tennant not to do that, but I can't help myself sometimes. I like looking back to see where the competition is, to know they're not sneaking up on me," said Pink, who crossed the finish line in 9:24.88. "I'm so happy. I always wanted to get to OFSAA. It was a big goal and I didn't think it would happen, but Mr. Tennant helped me out and trained me hard. I give a lot of credit to him.
"We talk strategy, when to make moves, passing on the corners and things like that. He really knows what he's doing when it comes to training for these races because he was a runner back in his university days."
Tennant was a middle distance runner, at the University of Idaho, during the mid 1980's.
Guelph's Tennessee Tremain won 3000 metres in 9:21.55.
Pink's teammate Connor Erb was 10th (9:55.72).
In the midget men's 1500 metres, Pink finished seventh (4:24.18) while Erb was 15th (4:35.66).
Parkside's Jack Carlson qualified third, in the midget men's 400 metres (53.49 seconds). Carlson finished sixth, in the 200 metre dash (24.46 sec.).
The biggest heartbreak would be for Parkside sprinter Michael Roth, who suffered a lower body injury during his first race, the junior men's 400 metres.
Roth had to withdraw from his two other individual races, the 200 metre dash and 300-metre hurdles.
Races are decided on the track, but Roth's times from WOSSAA, were faster than the winning times at regionals.
His injury also forced Parkside's junior men's 4x100-metre relay team to pull out of a race, that featured four disqualifications and one team not finishing.
Jared Parkin, of Parkside, just missed qualifying, placing fifth, in junior men's shot put (14.77 metres). Parkin had three throws over 14 metres and one at 13.89. He faulted twice, attempting to reach 15 metres.
"That's the best series he has ever done," said coach Kyle Rolph.
Parkin placed seventh in discus (44.91m).
Sarah Smith, Dorchester, sixth, midget women's 400 metres (1:01.15); Nathaniel Abell, East Elgin, seventh, open men's 2000 metre steeplechase (6:18.61), 13th, senior men's 3000 metres (9:22.96); Zachary Copeland, Parkside, eighth, junior men's discus (44.85m); Abbey Downing, Dorchester, eighth, midget women's pole vault (2.25 metres); Savana Cronk, St. Joe's, ninth, senior women's high jump (1.45m); Jaime Worsfold, Dorchester, 10th, midget women's long jump (4.61m); Emma Lavoie, Dorchester, 10th, junior women's pole vault (1.90m); Aiden Currah, Dorchester, 11th, midget men's pole vault (2.40m); Danny Wiebe, East Elgin, 11th, junior men's high jump (1.65m); Nolan Smith, Dorchester, 11th, midget men's triple jump (11.26m); Emma McKnight, Dorchester, 11th, senior women's 100 metres (12.91 seconds); Gwen Martens, East Elgin, 12th, junior women's 100 metre dash; Seth Kuiper, Central Elgin, 12th, senior men's shot put (12.59m); Adam Dekraker, 13th, East Elgin, junior men's long jump (5.54m); Aidan Rand, Dorchester, 13th, senior men's pole vault (2.75m); Dorchester midget women's 4x100-metre relay team (Smith, Worsfold, Olivia Simonis, Michalla Farrugia, 13th; William Bryant, Glencoe, 13th, junior men's high jump (1.55m); Amy Ropchan, East Elgin, 14th, senior women's 800 metres (2:34.75); Sydney Gee, Central Elgin, 14th, midget women's 400 metres (1:04.13), 11th, javelin (25.17m); Braxton Haggith, Glencoe, 14th, midget men's javelin (32.41m); Nathan Mezenberg, St. Joe's, 15th, junior men's triple jump (11.35m); Alyssa Ebert, Dorchester, 15th, junior women's 300-metre hurdles (53.74 sec.); Carter Walt, St. Joe's, 15th, midget men's discus (18.33m); Body Fodor, Parkside, 16th, junior men's shot put, (11.90m).
Fourth OFSAA for LDSS ladies: OFSAA West regional 2017 day one