Sunday, June 23, 2024

Huge record-setting day at high school track & field city finals

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By Keaton Hills

A pair of Gisèle-Lalonde student-athletes were always moving quickly, whether they were running, jumping or moving between their multiple events at the May 22-23 NCSSAA track and field championships at Terry Fox Athletic Facility.

And when Tahlia Aird-Greaves and Timéo Atonfo put their running and jumping skills together for the sprint hurdles event, the result was especially golden.

Tahlia Aird-Greaves. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Grade 9 student Aird-Greaves was a triple-winner in her debut at the high school city finals, capturing the novice girls’ long jump with a leap of 5.03 metres, the 80-metre hurdles in 12.53 seconds and the 100 m in 12.60.

Aird-Greaves’ 12.43 clocking in the heats would have placed her in the silver medal position at last year’s OFSAA provincial championships in her division, just behind breakout star Jorai Oppong-Nketiah, who is not competing this season after transferring to Louis-Riel.

Aird-Greaves told the Ottawa Sports Pages that she would like to work hard to get at least a top-3 finish in her events come OFSAA.


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That was the result for Atonfo at OFSAA 2023 in Ottawa, when he earned bronze in the junior boys’ 100 m hurdles and long jump, plus a silver in the triple jump.

Atonfo earned two titles at this year’s city finals, winning the senior boys’ long jump in 6.80 m and the 100 m hurdles in 14.92.

He was just third in the senior boys’ triple jump at this year’s national capital championships, but the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club athlete said that he hadn’t been giving maximum effort just yet, following an ankle injury a couple months ago.

“When I’m healthy, I think I can go pretty far [at OFSAA] and run faster,” Atonfo indicated. “I’ve been, not slowing down, but I’m not going full out just in case. I don’t want to re-injure my ankle. So I think I want to improve all of my times.”

Timéo Atonfo. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Both Gisèle-Lalonde athletes highlighted the benefits of competing in multiple events.

Aird-Greaves said that competing in hurdles and straight sprinting helps her improve at both events.

“They kind of all complement each other,” echoed Atonfo, the 2023 national under-18 long jump silver medallist. “Long (jump) is a mix of speed and technique and triple (jump) is also part speed but mainly technique, so I think they both help each other.”

Finishing on Atonfo’s heels in the 100 m hurdles was fellow Grade 11 student Mason Brennan of Colonel By in 15.07.

Brennan, who has become friends with Atonfo after racing against him “since the beginning,” called the performance his best race of the year so far. The city high jump bronze medallist added that he knew going in Atonfo would push him, but that it’s always fun to race against him.

GRADE 11 ATHLETES HEADLINE RECORD-SETTERS

There were a number of new records set at this year’s national capital meets, including a pair by Grade 11 students who erased long-standing senior boys’ benchmarks from the days when high school stretched to Grade 13.

Will Batley (left) and Damien Richer-Mugford. Photo: Dan Plouffe

West Carleton’s Will Batley broke the 43-year-old record of 21.60 in the 200 m with a sparkling new standard of 21.54. He later surpassed the 35-year-old 100 m record time of 10.67, but the illegal 4.5 tailwind kept his 10.61 mark out of the record books.

“I felt like my start was OK, but I thought I could have done better,” Batley said, replaying his 100 m effort. “Halfway through the race when I was coming up, that’s when I was like, ‘OK, let’s go.’”

Batley received a solid challenge in both of his sprint races, though not from his usual peer for the podium. Ashbury’s Preston Schwarz, who won bronze behind Batley’s double-gold at OFSAA 2023, recorded just one result this season – 43rd in the east conference 100 m, suggesting a possible injury.

In his place was 2023 national U18 champion Damien Richer-Mugford of Franco-Cité. Richer-Mugford, who was fifth and sixth in the senior boys’ 200 and 100 m at OFSAA 2023 in his Grade 11 year, ran 22.12 and 10.88 in the 2024 cities.

Zachary Jeggo. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Louis-Riel’s Zachary Jeggo also had quality challengers en route to his record-setting performance in the senior boys’ 400 m. The OFSAA 2023 double-gold medallist broke a 38-year-old mark with his winning time of 47.96, followed by Lisgar’s Stephan Balson in 48.48 and Mother Teresa’s William Sanders in 49.37.

Jeggo didn’t set a record in winning the 400 m hurdles, but the Grade 11 athlete’s 54.22 performance would have won last year’s OFSAA senior boys’ race by .98. He also anchored the Louis-Riel open boys’ 4×400 m relay team to gold in 3:26.02.

Béatrice-Desloges’ Taisei Tan eclipsed the junior boys’ 300 m hurdles record that Jeggo missed at city finals last year, beating the 28-year-old mark of 40.30 with his 40.08 effort. The wind meter negated another would-be record of 13.90 for Tan in the junior boys’ 100 m hurdles as the 2.6 reading kept Leewinchell Jean’s 13.93 mark intact.

Peak Centre’s Grace Streek took down Elizabeth Vroom’s recent 2,000 m open girls’ steeplechase record by 6.99 with her 7:06.58 performance, to go alongside victories in the senior girls’ 1,500 and 3,000 m.

And Ottawa Tech’s Ryan Monette established a new benchmark of 2:42.87 in the boys’ 800 m intellectual category.

The 3.9 tailwind also kept Sacred Heart’s Kaiya Woodcock out of the record books in the senior girls’ long jump as her 5.73 m effort surpassed Devyani Biswal’s 5.58 m official best.

LOADS OF GOLD FOR MULTIPLE EVENTS WINNERS

There were a number of athletes who earned multiple gold medals in their events.

Ange-Mathis Kramo (right). Photo: Dan Plouffe

OFSAA 2023 silver medallist Ange-Mathis Kramo of Paul-Desmarais came within .01 of Batley’s meet record last year in the junior boys’ 200 m with his 22.15 performance, while his 10.94 clocking in the 100 m bested Batley’s 11.02 winning time at OFSAA last year. Kramo also took the 400 m crown in 50.29.

Fega Eruotor (second from left). Photo: Dan Plouffe

Merivale’s Fega Eruotor clocked 24.87 to win the senior girls’ 200 m – a significant improvement over the 25.38 time that placed her fourth at OFSAA last year as a Grade 11. Eruotor also won the 100 m in 11.91 and was part of Merivale’s champion 4×100 m relay team in 50.32.

St. Francis-Xavier had a pair of triple-champions – Shannon Dewar won the junior girls’ 200 m, 400 m and 300 m hurdles, while Daniel Pilkington topped the novice boys’ 100 m, 200 m and 100 m hurdles.

Ashbury’s Deborah Adeleye was also a triple-gold medallist in the junior girls’ 80 m hurdles, long jump and triple jump.

Earning double victories were Immaculata’s Ellie McGregor (novice girls’ 400 and 800 m), Earl of March’s Luke Van Brabant (novice boys’ 800 and 1,500 m) and Hillcrest’s Charlie Mortimer (junior boys’ 1,500 and 3,000 m).

MANY OTTAWA OFSAA MEDAL HOPES

Ellie McGregor. Photo: Dan Plouffe

There were several more local athletes who came up with performances that hinted at OFSAA podium potential.

Louis-Riel’s Mallea McMullin threw 37.80 m in the novice girls’ javelin to surpass the distance that won OFSAA in her division last year.

Immaculata’s Beni Nkongolo, who defied odds to win the OFSAA 2023 high jump, bettered that performance by 5 cm with his 1.85 m junior boys’ leap at this year’s cities.

Future University at Buffalo NCAA basketball player Akot Akot of Notre Dame made his high school track and field debut in his senior season and won the high jump in 1.95 m.

Paul-Desmarais’s Sadie Gilbert (10.87 m in senior girls’ shot put), Sir Robert Borden’s Roxy Gardiner (10.47 m in novice girls’ triple jump) and Glebe’s Derek Strachan (6:05.60 in open boys’ 2,000 m steeplechase) were other standout winners, while Woodroffe’s Max Wilson led a competitive trio to the finish line of the senior boys’ 800 m in 1:56.92, ahead of Glebe’s Saul Taler (1:56.99) and De La Salle’s Safwan El Mansari (1:57.03).

Retiring NCSSAA track and field convenors Gary Monsour and Simone Wilson. Photo: Dan Plouffe

The May 30-31 OFSAA East Regionals in Belleville will serve as the final qualifier for the 2024 OFSAA Track and Field Championships at Western University in London, ON from June 6-8.


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