Lo-Ellen Park head track coach Colin Ward was
not too worried — having worked out his numbers six ways
to Sunday, he had a pretty good feeling that a 10th consecutive
aggregate track and field city championship was still well within
reach, despite the fact that the Lo-Ellen Park Knights trailed
the Lockerby Vikings by 20 points after Day 1.
Ward, apparently, had good reason to remain confident
as the South End powerhouse prevailed on May 22, outdistancing
the Vikes by some 40 points or so as their dominance in the
hurdles and relays began to take hold.
With a race this tight, split-second victories
can be key. Few were tighter than the junior girls 100m dash,
with the top four separated by 9/100th of a second. Michelle
Corallo (LOE) and Sidney Smith (MMT) finished with identical
times of 13.35, with Corallo earning the nod by virtue of a
slight lean of the shoulders confirmed in the photo finish.
"I thought that I was going to come close
to first, but maybe not first, because I know some of these
girls can beat me," said Corallo after the race. "I
was trying to get across the line as fast as I could, so I made
my stride longer."
Having experienced OFSAA competition only by virtue
of being part of the midget girls 4x100m relay team last summer,
Corallo is hopeful of securing a berth coming out of NOSSA next
week in Sault Ste. Marie, though she knows that there is very
little to choose between Smith, Meagan McGaughey (13.42) and
Brooke Kennedy (13.44) and herself.
No such concern for Karly Hellstrom of Lasalle,
who shared the midget girls individual aggregate trophy with
Allison Byrnes of Marymount, as both young ladies were among
the six competitors, in total, who finished the two-day meet
with three gold medals (not including relays).
Hellstrom was coming off a strong season in her
first year of high school cross-country running, having topped
all local athletes in terms of an OFSAA-best performance, though
she decided to cut back the distances somewhat on the track.
"I really like the 800m, so I knew for sure
I was doing that one," she explained. "Then we talked
about just giving the 400m a try. I did it at relays and had
1:02, 1:03 split times, so I thought I would keep that as one
of my events.
"I wasn't really big on doing the 3000m,
because I prefer to run in the bush, with more to explore, instead
of being on the track and running around in circles."
In the end, the talented Grade 9 student would sweep the 400m
(1:03.16), the 800m (2:28.62) and the 1500m (5:21.01), with
Byrnes earning gold in the long jump (5.06 metres), the triple
jump (10.07m) and the 100m dash (13.06 seconds).
Byrnes' best effort in the long jump registered
one of 10 new records that were inscribed into the books on
Wednesday and Thursday, breaking the former mark of 4.58m courtesy
of Grace Thomson of Lockerby in 2007.
Also establishing a new standard was junior boys
high jumper Noah LaPierre from Lasalle, moving the bar up from
1.85 metres (Brandon Mask - Lasalle - 2011) to 1.88 metres.
"The weather was perfect, my legs felt good
— I thought it was very reachable to get the record today,"
said LaPierre. "It started to rain a little bit before
the competition, which made me a little nervous about the surface
With the precipitation holding off, the anticipation mounted
as the local basketball star focused on his technique.
"I always have the height on my jump, it's
more just a matter of looking back and getting my butt up.
"Almost every one of my misses is my butt
hitting the bar. I get the same feedback with every coach. So
if my butt's up, it's going to be a good day."
Like many midget-aged SDSSAA athletes, LaPierre
struggled with his first OFSAA in 2013, not coming close to
jumping heights that he could routinely reach in practice as
the environment of competing against year-round track and field
athletes took hold.
"You're a big fish in a small pond living
in Northern Ontario, and then you get to OFSAA and everyone
is that big fish," he said. "OFSAA is a completely
different experience, a lot different than competing here."
Joining Hellstrom and Byrnes in the three-gold-medal
grouping were Brendan Costello (JB - Lo-Ellen), Liam Passi (SB
- Lasalle), Laura Graham (SG - Lasalle) and Sarah MacLean (SG
- Lockerby), with Mukenge Muray (Lockerby) taking the midget
boys individual aggregate, and Meagan McGaughey (CND) and Nicole
Conlin (Lo-Ellen) splitting the same in the junior girls ranks.