By CLAUDE SCILLEY
BROCKVILLE, May 22—Collectively, athletes from Kingston Area schools had a splendid day Friday on the final day of the Eastern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association track and field championships.
Individually, the performances shone just as brightly.
Kingston-area competitors won 40 of the 82 individual events contested on the final day of the two-day meet—almost half, even though KASSAA is just one of six associations that comprise EOSSAA.
Consider these other achievements:
• Holy Cross won its first eastern Ontario track and field title, capturing the team championship for AAA schools.
• Of the nine records set at the meet—outside the junior and midget girls shot put, where this was the first year using the three-kilogram shot so every performance was a new record—five were established by Kingston Area competitors.
• Cole Horsman, the midget-age sprinter from Frontenac, continued his assault on eastern Ontario record books, breaking the modern meet records in both the 100 and 200 metres for the second week in a row. At the end of the day he passed two runners in the final leg and took Frontenac to victory in the midget boys 400-metre relay.
• Sophia Skorenky of Marie-Rivier was the only female athlete, and just one of three competitors at the entire meet, to win all three of her individual events: the 100, 200 and 400 metres.
In a collective display not seen from Kingston Area athletes at EOSSAA in a long time, local competitors won eight of the 11 girls sprints, five of the six sprint hurdles divisions—in the sixth, Sydenham’s Brodie Latimer came second—all three divisions of boys high jump, all three divisions of girls discus, and, overall, 24 of the 41 individual events for girls.
For both Horsman and Skorenky, the prospect of such terrific results might have seemed remote even a couple of months ago.
“I’m a hockey player,” said Horsman, a defenceman with the AAA Kingston junior Frontenacs. “I just took a break from hockey but now I’m thinking, maybe, about pursuing track.”
Horsman had been successful in elementary school meets, but said he had no idea what was in store for him in his Grade 9 season.
“I carried my speed from when I was younger and tried my hardest, but this has been crazy,” he said. “I didn’t expect to being winning meets from here to Ottawa. I’m breaking records that have been there for years. It’s a great experience.”
Skorenky had never raced 400 metres before January, when her coach with the Kingston Track and Field Club, Wayne Bulak, suggested she give it a try at an indoor meet. “My time was about a minute,” she recalled, “and he thought probably it would be a good event to take up.”
Certainly the rest of the field Friday would agree, after Skorenky won the event in 59.86 seconds, about three and a half seconds ahead of her closest rival.
“It was a tough race,” said Skorenky, who dabbled with the 400-metre hurdles last year. “It’s different. It took me a while to get used to it but now I’m a bit more comfortable with it.
“Wayne helps me a lot. I have to thank him for where I am right now, and my coaches from school.”
The schedule makers did not have Skorenky in mind when they planned EOSSAA. She barely had 20 minutes between her 400-metre race and the final of the 100 metres.
“I was a bit nervous, to be honest, because the last time I ran the 400 my legs were pretty sore,” she said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to run (the 100) like I usually do, but I just had a kick during the race and wanted to run.
“I guess the 400 was a good warmup.”
The compressed schedule didn’t cause her to approach the 100 metres any differently, Skorenky said.
“I knew there was one girl who was pretty good. She was right beside me and halfway through I thought I just had to give it my all if I wanted to beat her.”
Throughout her high school career, Skorenky has had the most success with the 200 metres, having raced the event at OFSAA each of the last two years, finishing 16th as a junior in 2013 and 13th as a first-year senior last year.
She won that race Friday going away, winning by more than a second, which translates to about an eight-metre lead at the finish line. “The competition was good, to be able to push me,” she said. “I thought I had a decent race. Hopefully, I can continue that next week.”
The time, 26.26 seconds, was about three-quarters of a second off her personal best, which she hasn’t matched in almost a year, a detail that, Skorenky said, doesn’t concern her.
“Not yet,” she said. “I was running a bit slower at KASSAA and EOSSAA last year, too, and at regionals I got my fastest time, so I’m expecting it to be a bit faster next week.”
Horsman took a staggering 22 one-hundredths of a second off the six-year-old record in the 100 metres, leaving it at 11.32 seconds, a time that was just two one-hundredths of a second slower than the time that won senior boys division.
He took six-tenths of a second off the record in the 200 metres, winning in 23.15 seconds, a second and a half ahead of the crowd.
Horsman, who rolled his eyes skyward and gave a nod “to the big Man,” said that though his time in the 200 metres was not his best, he felt it was his strongest race of the year.
“The time didn’t come up but I felt pretty good,” he said. “I was gassed after it.”
Even though he has consistently posted times that would put him in the middle of the field in a typical OFSAA final, Horsman said he hasn’t adjusted his objectives for the season.
“I’m just going to take it one step at a time,” he said. “Every race, I’m going to try for a personal best and where I fare at the end, we’ll see. There’s going to be some great competition coming up now, and I’m going to love that.”
In addition to Horsman’s two records, and the one set by Regi’s Brogan MacDougall on the first day of the meet Thursday, the other records broken by Kingston Area competitors came in junior girls 100 metres, where Marissa Battle of Kingston Collegiate won in 12.72 seconds, two one-hundredths faster than Hawkesbury’s Catherine Lalonde ran in 2005, and in midget boys high jump, where Michael Rowsell of Regi cleared 1.79 metres, a bar set one centimetre higher than it was when Regi’s Jason Steels set his record in 2006.
It was a rough day for Steels, who also lost his eight-year-old record in junior boys 100 metres to Eric Mitchell of Notre Dame of Carleton Place, who bested the old mark, 11.24 seconds, by two one-hundredths of a second.
Other highlights from the final day of the EOSSAA meet:
• Sarah Bell of KC remains undefeated this year in both midget girls 100 and 200 metres but Tori Wentz of Bayridge, perpetually second this year, continues to nip at Bell’s heels. Wentz was just one one-hundredth of a second off the winning pace in the 100 metres Friday.
• That wasn’t the closest finish of the day. In midget girls 80-metre hurdles, Brianna Burgess of Sydenham got the best of Regi’s Clare Stafford by the narrowest of margins. The photo timer was put to the test but ultimately declared Burgess the winner, 13.543 seconds to 13.544.
• A dropped baton spelled disaster for the Sydenham junior boys 400-metre relay team, a team of great promise in that it included Merik Wilcock, 100- and 300-metre hurdles champion here, and Thomas Lambert, who had top-three finishes in the 100, 200 and 400 metres. The drop happened at the first exchange. The baton was picked up, but it was too late to make up the lost time and the team finished 10th. It was the second setback for the Sydenham relays. Similar misfortune befell a promising midget girls 4x100 team at the Kingston Area meet.
• Besides Bell, Horsman and Wilcock,who won both the sprint and intermediate hurdles for junior boys, seven other Kingston Area athletes emerged from EOSSAA with two victories: Battle, who also decisively won junior girls 200 metres; Regi’s Hailey Wolfgram (senior girls shot put, discus), MacDougall (midget girls 800 and 1,500 metres) and Mary Baker (midget girls discus, javelin); KC’s Amanda Black (junior girls high jump, long jump) and Ben Workman (senior boys 1,500 and 3,000 metres) and Sydenham’s Shirley Hughes-Ryan (100 and 800 metres for ambulatory girls).
Athletes who finished in the top six in their respective events qualified for the East Region meet, the final event at which athletes will qualify for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships. At the regional meet, to be held Thursday and Friday again in Brockville, competitors must finish in the top four to advance to the provincial competition, June 4-6 in Toronto.