Rollins captures three gold while seniors Basson, Dolby, Rand, are golden twice
as athletes welcome back the two-day TVRA track and field championships
May 14, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
LONDON, Ont. - Athletes running the oval, soaring over bars or in to the sand and tossing javelins and heavy spherical balls in to the air.
All the activity was a welcomed sight, at the first Thames Valley Regional Athletics (TVRA) track and field championships this decade, at Western Alumni Stadium, May 12-13.
Due to the COVID pandemic wiping out two seasons, there hasn't been a TVRA meet since 2019. This year's meet had the unusual, as along with novice athletes, junior and first year seniors were making their championship debut appearance.
Several known names within the track and field community won events, but new faces were also making a name for themselves, bringing home gold.
Leading the way were double gold medalist seniors Mason Basson and Ethan Dolby, from Parkside, Aiden Coles and Dylen Belanger, of St. Joe's and Dorchester's Brianna Rand.
Parkside's Merrick Rollins made the biggest debut, sweeping the gold medals for novice boys' shot put, discus and javelin.
The top 10 in each event, advance to the Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association (WOSSAA) championships, also at Western, May 19 and 20. WOSSAA is the TVRA and Huron-Perth conferences. At WOSSAA, the top five in each event, move on to the OFSAA West regional, this year, in LaSalle, May 27-28.
Several well known senior athletes won events, including Aiden Coles, one of the more recognizable faces in local track.
The Iona College commit was with Team Canada, at the U20 Pan-American cross country Cup, held in Brazil in March. Last November, Coles won the U18 race, at the Athletics Canada cross country championships, in Ottawa.
"People from my team (Joe's) were going, oh, it's Mr. Team Canada. That's what they call me sometimes," laughs Coles. "Going in to the race they expected me to win, saying it's going to be an easy win for me."
However, Aiden knows there's always two runners tapping on his shoulder, his brother, Tristan and Heath McAllister, of London Central. The trio train together at London-Western club.
"I have my brother and I have my training partner. It's not going to be easy, or handed to me," said Coles, adding at club practice, Jack Sheppard, who runs a 1500 metre in the 3:44 range, keeps all three grounded.
"(Sheppard) walks on us in practice. He makes it seem so easy, while we're really going hard."
Aiden did win the senior men's 1500, in three minutes and 59.78 seconds (3:58.78), but McAllister (4:00.11) and Tristan (4:01.95), were on his heels.
"We knew the other guys would sit in a pack together and it was going to be our little pack," Aiden said. "Once we got to a lap to go, Tristan tried taking it (lead), but I didn't really want him to have it. I started pushing and I think we closed in something like 57 (seconds last lap)."
McAllister won the 3000 metres, with Tristan edging Aiden for second place.
Aiden and Tristan, joined forces with the Belanger twins, Dylen and Harrison, to win the open boys' 4x400-metre relay race, by 10 seconds over Parkside.
Four and eight bird
Mason Basson cruised to wins in the senior men's 400 and 800 metre runs.
Basson finished over a second faster than Stampeder teammate Vincent Moore, in the 400, clocking in at 52.76. Then Basson took the 800 by over three seconds, posting the only time under two minutes, at 1:59.36.
"It felt like a solid race for me," Basson said, of the 400. "Physically it felt good. I passed my first 200 around 23 (seconds), which is a fast solid opening and my coach, Harry, told me to go out fast and I listened to that, and to bring it home with what I had left."
In the 800, Basson broke away from the field on the second lap.
"I was confident that I had the kick to out kick them," Basson said. "I picked it up a bit on the third 200 and then in the last 200, I just gave everything I had to bring me home."
In his third event, the 1500 metres, Basson placed sixth.
Basson, who trains with St. Thomas Legion club, will be running for the Guelph Gryphons this fall, the U-Sports track and field champions.
Dylen Belanger swept the senior men's hurdles, taking the 110-metre event in 15.28 seconds and setting a Tri-County record in the 400-metre hurdles, winning by almost 10 seconds, in 55.74 seconds.
Belanger bumps former Parkside Stampeder, Jamie Hollingsworth, from the record books and his time of 55.80 seconds, set in 1998.
"Going into it it (400) was windy, so my initial thought was to get out hard and then on the back stretch let the wind kind of carry me," Belanger said. "Around hurdle six and seven, that's when I made my move and started to push a bit. I felt the ending was really good. I was able to maintain my stride and finish."
Belanger will be competing in the 400 hurdles this summer, in the newly formed Canadian track and field league.
"I'm excited. It's a good field to be running with," said Belanger, one of only a handful of high school athletes selected. "I feel I'll be pushed hard, but I feel when that rolls around I'll be running faster too."
The CFTL features four teams of 32
athletes each, competing at three meets, including one at Western, May 28,
before a championship in Ottawa.
Two sport athlete
Ethan Dolby may be more known for his football skills, but for now the Parkside Stampeder is blitzing the competition on the track, winning both the senior men's 100-metre dash in 11.45 seconds and the 200 metre sprint in a personal best time of 23.23 seconds.
"A lot of hard work and determination," Dolby said. "It feels amazing to be here. Thanks to (coach) Harry (Stantsos) and the other coaches at Parkside and STL."
Back in 2019 while at St Joe's, Dolby won the novice men's 200 metres at both TVRA and WOSSAA.
"They (Joe's coaches) really inspired me to keep going with track, even though I wasn't really in to it," said Dolby. "I was mainly focused on football. but track is a great sport."
Dolby, a Western Mustang commit
for football, kept training throughout the
pandemic, despite no meets, or football games.
"I could have given it (track) up, but my dad was pushing me and my mom was a track star at Waterloo. They pushed me and I needed that little bit of confidence, that boost," Dolby said "Practice was hard. No one wants to show up three times a week and train and not have any meets, but coaches and friends, really pushed me."
Sticking with practice is paying off.
"I kept it going and the results have shown," said Dolby. "Now I have to just show up for WOSSAA."
As a novice competitor in 2019, Brianna Rand won OFSAA silver in the 300-metre hurdles. The Dorchester Beaver would love to end her high school career back at the provincial championships.
Rand won the senior women's 100-metre hurdles and triple jump on day one, before finishing second in the 400-metre hurdles.
"I was really happy with the triple jump and sprint hurdles," Rand said. "I'm still new to sprint hurdles. Triple jump I didn't expect to win, because I haven't practiced in a really long time. The 400 could have gone better. It wasn't my best race."
Rand had the sprint hurdles and triple jump simultaneously. Rand made her first attempt a leap of 10.50 metres, before hustling over to hurdles start line.
"My start was really good. I was really quick over the first hurdle," Rand said. "I got some momentum there. I just pushed harder at the end."
Rand won in 15.42 seconds, the only time under 16 seconds.
Back at the pit, Rand missed rounds two and three, but the 10.50 was third best giving the her three more jumps. Her winning leap of 10.96 metres came on her final attempt, lifting her over Clairesse Coffey of St. Joe's, who had a best effort of 10.59 metres.
Momentum of winning the hurdles carried over into triple jump.
"I think so. I had a little bit of adrenaline," said Rand, who trains with London-Western club.
"Good feeling into WOSSAA," said Rand. "I don't want to put too much pressure on, but I like to go back to OFSAA, because it's my last year and I think it would be fun to go back there."
Having fun throwing implements is Merrick Rollins.
The freshman became the first Parkside Stampeder to bring home a hat trick of gold medals, from TVRA, since Noah Rolph achieved the feat 10 years ago in 2012. Rolph also was a thrower and his dad, Kyle, coaches Rollins.
"The gold feels really good," Rollins confirmed. "I love javelin. It's the most fun for me. It's just something about throwing the long pointy spear that feels epic."
Rollins took the javelin crown with a throw of 41.99 metres, four metres farther than Dorchester's Evan Stevens, at 37.53 metres.
"He (Rolph) said discus may work well for me because of my low centre of gravity. Easy to move through the circle," Rollins said. "Same for shot. The throws seem to naturally come easy for me."
Rollins' heave of 11.23 metres was the only toss over 11 metres and in discus, Rollins won by three metres with a best effort of 37.65 metres.
Coach Rolph suggested discus to Rollins and shot put was an event decided upon last minute.
"Shot was supposed to be for fun. I wasn't even going to enter," said Rollins. "I just started to do full spins last practice (a day before TVRA meet). It's worked well."
Rollins just picked up the implements earlier this year but has a history of throwing. Back in 2019, while in Grade six at Kettle Creek elementary in Port Stanley, Rollins won open softball throw at the Final meet for the Thames Valley District school Board, held at Western.
First year Dorchester senior Nabeel Haliru won senior boys high jump clearing 1.71 metres.
"I'm feeling pretty stoked, pretty hyped up," Haliru said. "I've been working on curving over the bar more and getting my arms up, as well as getting a little faster towards the bar. That was a really big part of it."
The Ingersoll resident credits Dorchester coach James Tennant for his success.
"He's really an expert when it comes to track and field," Haliru said. "Every little thing, he knows what I'm doing wrong and what I can do to improve. I don't think I could ask for a better coach."
Haliru also qualified in triple jump, placing 10th.
All on one day
Maya Kemmerling was busy in her first appearance at the championship, with all three events on day one.
The St. Joe's student raced to a gold medal, in the novice women's 80-metre hurdles in a time of 13.91 seconds, just off her prelim time of 13.7 seconds.
"I focused on the finish line and was aggressive. That was the goal," Kemmerling said. "I felt I was good technique wise. I have to work on my trail leg. It wasn't my personal best, I'm getting there."
In the 100-metre final, Medway's Danielle Heard won gold, winning in 13.38 seconds to Kemmerling's 13.61 seconds.
"I was tired. It wore me out. I did that too many times," Kemmerling said with a laugh. "But I felt I did pretty good in that."
The 100-metre dash has prelims, semifinals and a final.
In her third event, Kemmerling placed second in long jump, just two centimetres behind London Banting's Sarah Boughner's mark of 4.53 metres.
"Long jump was good. I faulted a couple times which I felt pretty mad about, as I could have got a personal best, but I came out second and I'm happy."
Kemmerling shared how most athletes were feeling, at the first TVRA meet of the 2020s.
"I was really nervous but I think
everyone here is nervous," Kemmerling said. "Coming out of COVID, everyone is
kind of not ready for it. I haven't done this since Grade six, so it feels good being back on the track and competing."
Julia Tunks, of London Oakridge, had a record setting meet in two throwing events.
First, Tunks obliterated the junior women's discus record by 12 metres, with a throw of 49.93 metres, crushing the field by over 25 metres. Tunks is on course to take care of the current OFSAA record, of 45.16 metres, held by Grace Tennant.
From the shot put circle, her toss of 14.91 metres won by five metres and set another meet record.
Julia is the daughter of Olympian Jason Tunks.
Molly Anderson, of London Catholic Central, set a new mark in novice women's shot put, for the Central division, with a 10.38-metre toss.
Dorchester's Evan Stevens is on a short list of athletes, who will be competing in five events at WOSSAA. The novice male placed second in javelin, seventh in the 200 metre dash and 10th in the 100 metres. The Thorndale native is also on the novice men's 4x100-metre and the open men's 4x400-metre relay teams.
Parkside brought home the senior men's team title, with Basson, Dolby, Moore, a WOSSAA qualifier, in the 400, 800 and 1500, steeplechase winner Justin Cole, Alistair Maciver and Zac Roberts-Neef.
Dorchester had a pair of triple qualifiers on the track. Sam Willsie won the junior men's 400 metres, finished second in the 800 and third in the 1500. Ryan Johnson won the novice boys 3000 metres, placed second in the 1500 and fourth in the 800.
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Junior women: Emma Westbrook, 2nd, long jump (4.56m), 3rd, shot put (8.84m), 4th, 80m hurdles (14.18 sec.); Novice men: Coleton Lucio, 7th, shot put (10.11m);
Thirty Beavers will be spotted at WOSSAA.
Senior women: Brianna Rand, 1st, 100m hurdles (15.71 sec.), 1st, triple jump (10.96m), 2nd, 400m hurdles (1:11.23); Tegan Ceccanese, 2nd, 1500m (5:19.69), 2nd, 3000m (11:32.96); Hannah Freer, 2nd, discus, (25.82m), 6th, shot put (8.50m); Mackenzie Latimer, 4th, pole vault (2.05m); Allie Humphries, 7th, 400m hurdles (1:20.57); Olivia Dettloff, 7th, shot put (8.24m), 8th, discus (19.99m) Senior men: Nabeel Haliru, 1st, high jump (1.70m), 10th, triple jump (10.24m), Evan Gillies, 2nd, pole vault (3.10m); Owen Doherty, 6th, 400m hurdles (1:12.79); Adam McDonald, 7th, 400m hurdles (1:18.92); Ethan Kent, 8th (1:20.32); Jeremy Hardeman, 8th, 3000m (9:33.66); Nate Taylor, 9th, 800m (2:18.96) Junior men: Sam Willsie, 1st, 400m (54.13 sec.), 2nd, 800m (2:07.59); 3rd, 1500m (4:33.99); Zachary Dos Santos, 1st, javelin (37.00m); Grant Hallman, 5th, 1500m (4:47.73), 9th, 800m (2:25.56); Tyson Currah, 4th, 300m hurdles (46.85 sec.), 6th, 400m (57.72 sec.); Darwin Moradel, 6th, discus (26.54m); Brayden Smith, 6th, triple jump (10.98m), 8th, 400m (59.30 sec.); Darwin Moradel, 8th, shot put (9.04m); 4x100m relay team (Hallman, Smith, Aaron Pranger, Dos Santos), 8th (51.53 sec.) Junior women: Claire White, 2nd, pole vault (2.05m); Julia Devine, 2nd, high jump (1.48m), 6th, shot put (7.95m) Open men: Nate Taylor, 5th, 2000m steeplechase (7:24.27), 4x400m relay team (Currrah, Stevens, Willsie, Smith), 7th (3:53.24); Adam McDonald, 10th, 2000m steeplechase (8:01.8) Novice men: Ryan Johnson, 1st, 3000m (10:52.18), 2nd, 1500m (4:53.71), 4th, 800 (2:23.16); Evan Stevens, 2nd, javelin (37.53m), 7th, 200m (25.58 sec.), 10th, 100m (12.87 sec.); 4x100m relay team (Cole Schindler, Bradish, Devon Lucas, Stevens), 7th, (51.64 sec.); Aaron Pranger, 6th, javelin (32.50 sec.); Luke Bradish, 10th, javelin (25.55m) Novice women: Jessica Latimer, 5th, javelin (16.59m), 7th, shot put (7.07m)
Taylor Kana was the lone gold medalist from the East Elgin Eagles, winning novice women's javelin. The Eagles have nine moving on to WOSSAA.
Senior women: Julie Nagelhout, 2nd, javelin (34.14m), 6th, 100m (13.82 sec.), 6th, long jump (4.66m); 4x100m relay team, 10th (56.60 sec.); Senior men: Dustin Farrow, 10th, javelin (32.34m); Junior women: Faith Muholland, 3rd, discus (18.41m), 9th, shot put (7.04m); Alexa Shackelton, 6th, 3000m (15:25.38); Ashley Bergen, 7th, 3000m (15:25.94); Junior men: Sean Awde, 8th, 3000m (11:43.72); Novice women: Taylor Kana, 1st, javelin (28.55m); Emily Froese, 5th, triple jump (8.96m); Carly Arthur, 10th, triple jump (8.29m)
Merrick Rollins became the first Parkside Stampeder since Noah Rolph to win three events at TVRA. Both won shot put, discus and javelin. The Stampeders gallop to WOSSAA with 15 athletes.
Senior men: Ethan Dolby, 1st, 200m (23.23 sec.), 1st, 100m (12.03 sec.); Mason Basson, 1st, 400m (52.76 sec.), 1st, 800m (1:59.36), 6th, 1500m (4:17.70); Vincent Moore, 2nd, 400m (54.02 sec.), 4th, 800m (2:03.02), 8th, 1500m (4:28.31); Justin Cole, 2nd, 400m hurdles (1:04.19); Alistair Maciver, 9th, discus (27.25m) Senior women: Paige Gocan, 8th, 100m (14.16 sec.); 4x100m relay team (Gocan, Alyssa Gordon, Kaitlyn Pinnegar, Lynsey Last), 8th (55.88 sec.); Lynsey Last, 400m (1:11.02) Junior men: Jayden Sargeant, 2nd, discus (31.8m), 2nd, javelin (30.57m); Andrew Monteith, 2nd, 3000m (10:16.38), 2nd, 1500m (4:32.95), 3rd, 800 (2:12.65) Junior women: Alyssa Gordon, 1st, high jump (1.51m), 6th, 100m (14.18 sec.); Ava Goodison, 200m (30.40 sec.) Novice men: Merrick Rollins, first, shot put (11.23m), 1st, javelin (41.99m), 1st, discus (37.65m); Nathan Alden, 10th, long jump (4.53m) Novice women: Alexis Gray, 2nd, 400m (1:06.14), 4th, 200m (29.72 sec.) Open men: Justin Cole, 1st, 2000m steeplechase (6:55.80); Zac Roberts-Neef, 2nd, 2000m steeplechase (7:09.70); 4x400m relay team, 2nd (3:40.33);
The Rams advance 28 athletes to WOSSAA, led by double gold medalist hurdler, Dylen Belanger.
Senior men: Dylen Belanger, 1st, 400m hurdles (55.74 sec.), 1st, 110m hurdles (15.28 sec.), Aiden Coles, 1st, 1500m (3:59.78), third, 3000m (8:50.72); Tristan Coles, 2nd, 3000m (8:50.42), 3rd, 1500m (4:01.95); Harrison Belanger, 5th, 800m (2:05.89); Noah Pollnow, 4th, discus (31.45m), 8th, shot put (10.47m); Dayne Walcarius, 6th, pole vault (2.30m); Wes McLennan, 8th, 100m (12.18 sec.) Senior women: Claireese Coffey, 2nd, triple jump (10.59 sec.), 2nd, long jump (4.82m); Tai Novak, 10th, high jump (1.35m) Junior men: David Anderson, first, discus (32.91m), 2nd, shot put (11.55m); Matthew Piekny, 1st, high jump (1.70m), 10th, 400m (1:00.09); Jayden McMullen, 3rd, 3000m (10:22.22); Logan De Leeuw, 9th, 3000m (11:50.86) Junior women: Olivia Corneil, 5th, high jump (1.40m), 9th, 400m (1:11.53), 9th, long jump (4.12m) Open men: 4x400m relay team (Coles, Coles, Belanger, Belanger), 1st (3:30.94); Jayden McMullan, 4th, 2000m steeplechase (7:21.51) Novice women: Mara Kemmerling, 1st, 80m hurdles (13.91 sec.); 2nd, 100m (13.87 sec.), second, long jump (4.53m), Libby McCurdy, 1st, pole vault (1.75m), 9th, long jump (4.21m); Brooklyn Hewitt, 2nd, javelin (21.8m); Clair Sandham, 5th, 400m (1:08.54); 4x100m relay team, 5th (57.99 sec.); Promise Atkinson, 7th, 300m hurdles (59.55 sec.) Novice men: Shalem Hernandez, second, shot put (10.72m); Fowler Little, 4th, 3000m (11:23.84); Tyler Van Gorp, 5th, 300m hurdles (49.80 sec.); Ty Emre, 7th, 3000m (11:48.63); Alex Vachon, 7th, 300m hurdles (53.34 sec.); Conner Crosby, 8th, 3000m (12:05.38); Lucas Skirtschak, 8th, 400m hurdles (2:28.72); AJ Bernadas, 9th, javelin (27.27m); Lucca Bianchi, 10th, 100m hurdles (19.91 sec.)
Junior women: Fionna Campbell, 10th, long jump (4.11m); Junior men: Ryerdon Todd, 8th, long jump (4.86m); Jaxson Beattie, 9th, long jump (4.85m)
Novice men: Johnny Kemp, 3rd, long jump (4.86m), Adrian Baran, 6th, discus (28.95m), 7th, javelin (29.16m), Quinn Holmes, 10th, triple jump (9.63m); Junior women: Reegan Eberle, 4th, discus (17.08m), 5th, javelin (18.29m); senior women: Bella Eckert, 7th, javelin (24.92m);
MEDWAY (Thorndale residents)
Senior women: Jadyn Luna (Medway HS), 2nd, shot put (9.58m), 6th, 100m hurdles (16.48m)