50 Niagara athletes earn track meet invitation
Thorold Elite member Matthew Kleinsmith is one of 50 Niagara athletes selected to attend the NXTCHAMP Invitational June 18 to 20 at the Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on Niagara’s high school track and field athletes.
For the second straight year, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations has cancelled spring sports season and track and field is one of the casualties.
Thankfully Athletics Ontario has stepped into the void by hopefully hosting the NXTCHAMP Invitational June 18 to 20 at the Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University.
The event, scheduled to be run under strict health and safety protocols, was invitational only to limit numbers and, of the 400 or so athletes taking part, an impressive 50 will come from the Niagara area.
“With all of the challenges that everyone has faced over the last year and a half, it’s wonderful to see so many Niagara athletes recognized as being among the best in the province,” Thorold Elite coach Steven Fife said.
The top 12 athletes from across Ontario were invited to compete in each event and in three age categories: novice (Grade 9); junior (Grade 10), and senior (Grades 11 and 12). The meet is closely mimicking the format of OFSAA and athletes who finish first, second, or third in their event will earn a spot on the podium.
The meet has been a breath of fresh air for the athletes.
“We have been fortunate to have some smaller local competitions and time trials but there haven’t been any Ontario track championships since last March so high-performance opportunities have been really lacking and it’s been harder for athletes to elevate their game,” Fife said. “There were times where we were at a practice and one of our athletes would receive an invite and everyone would stop and congratulate them. It definitely became a talking point and a big deal within our community.”
Niagara Olympic Club coach and president Sharon Stewart feels it is important for kids to see that there is hope at the end of the tunnel.
“We are hopeful that it happens because it gives the kids a lot of hope and motivation to train when they can see a competition on the horizon.”
Both Stewart and Fife are not sure the meet will be able to be held given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario.
“I think a lot of us are skeptical that the current restrictions will allow for a meet of this scale in the middle of June in Toronto, but we are still preparing our athletes for it as best as we can and keeping our fingers crossed,” Fife said.
Thorold Elite Track Club athletes invited to the meet are: Arthur Belanger (junior boys 100- and 300-metre hurdles); Fenway Breckels (novice boys 1500 and 3000 metres); Gwendolyn Cudmore (senior girls high jump); Tommy Dallman (novice boys shot put and discus); Mikhail Dwyer (novice boys long jump); Carson Gauthier (novice boys 100-metre hurdles, shot put, discus, javelin, long jump and high jump); Tyrese Gibson (novice boys 100 metres and long jump); Caleb Grover (junior boys shot put and discus); Anna Harmsworth (novice girls high jump); Michael Ivanov (senior boys high jump and triple jump); Kaleb Kennedy (novice boys high jump and javelin); Adam Kleinsmith (2000-metre steeplechase); Matthew Kleinsmith (novice boys 1500 and 3000 metres); Nathan Kowcun (senior boys high jump); Sonny Leblanc (junior boys 300-metre hurdles); Victoria Massoom (novice girls 100 metres and 80-metre hurdles); Hayden Molnar (junior boys 300-metre hurdles); Ava Neumann (novice girls high jump); Mason Petrucci (2000-metre steeplechase); Gavin Stone (junior boys 400 and 800 metres); Daniel Swayze (senior boys discus); Chad Thorpe (junior boys 400 metres and 300-metre hurdles); Sammy Tonnies (novice boys 800 and 1500 metres); Denis Tzvetkov (senior boys long jump, javelin, pole vault and shot put); and, Ava Young (novice girls javelin).
Niagara Olympic Club members invited to the meet are: Ashtynn Caldwell (senior girls high jump); Eric Campbell (senior boys 800 and 1500 metres); Olivia Davidson (junior girls javelin); Gary Friesen (novice boys high jump and long jump); Cameron Green (senior boys high jump); Tristan McDougall (senior boys javelin); Hayley Morey (senior girls 800 metres); Zavio Prato (novice boys 100, 200 and 400 metres); and, Lauren Thomas (novice girls 100, 200 and 400 metres).
Athletics Niagara athletes selected for the meet are: Isabella Brenzil (novice girls long jump, triple jump, javelin and high jump); Kristina Etezadi (novice girls 800 metres, 1500 m); Samuel Jeffery (junior boys long jump and triple jump); Tessa Jeffery (senior girls 3000 metres); Braden McEachern (junior boys 100 metres); Connor McEachern (junior boys 100 metres); Sierra Skotniski (senior girls shot put and discus); and, Isaac Soppitt (junior boys 100 metres, long jump and high jump).
Runners Edge athletes chosen include: Ryan Beauregard (2000-metre steeplechase); Riley Coles (2000-metre steeplechase); Isabella Goveia (senior girls 400 metres); and, Rian Wilson (novice boys 1500 and 3000 metres).
Other Niagara athletes picked are: unattached Kalista Elliott (junior girls long jump and triple jump); Toronto West Athletics’ Owen Lockyer (senior boys 3000 metres); York University Track Club’s Sophia Saldutto, (junior girls discus, shot put and javelin); and; Edge Triathlon’s Matteo Tonnos (novice boys 1500 and 3000 metres).