Track and field off and running
The high school track and field season got off to a flying start Friday with the staging of the first-ever Lakeshore Catholic High School Track and Field Meet.
“We are hoping this will become an annual meet,” said co-convenor Austin Huh. “It is a tuneup meet for our zone championships and SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association).”
Huh is a recent arrival to Lakeshore Catholic after teaching and coaching in the Region of Peel and serving as the Region of Peel Secondary Schools Athletic Association track and field convenor.
“Lakeshore Catholic is one of the few (Catholic) schools that has a track and field facility and that sparked my interest and here we are now.”
Huh is hoping the meet will continue to grow.
“I would like this to be an annual event and just make this a part of Niagara Catholic’s track and field tradition.”
Co-convenor Bernie Tessier was happy with the inaugural meet and what it can do for the future of track and field at the Port Colborne high school.
“Our numbers are low relative to other teams but I am hoping the whole school sees what’s going on here today, how much fun everyone is having and the buzz that is going on,” he said. “Hopefully we will have more kids in the future.”
Friday’s meet involved 570 athletes from 18 schools, including schools from Mississauga, Cayuga, Hagersville, Oakville and Niagara.
“I was happy with the response,” Huh said. “There are other track meets running and us not being an established school that typically runs track meets, I am extremely encouraged with the participation level here. If we can pick up one or two more schools next year, that’s the goal.”
He feels it is important get athletes an early taste of competition.
“The more you compete, the more comfortable you will be for track meets where it is an elimination style. This is a great opportunity for kids to get more practice and feel good about themselves before the major meets.”
Preparations for the meet went into the 11th hour. Long jump and triple jump pits and a shot put venue were added late in the process.
“We are staging what we are able to accommodate,” Huh said. “We don’t have the entire facilities here at Lakeshore but maybe one day perhaps we will get them. We are doing what we can with what we have.”
Events that were unable to be staged in any form were pole vault, high jump, discus and the 3,000 metres.
“We even staggered the track events,” Huh said. “There was no 200 but we tried to make it up with the sprint medley where they run the 200. We also don’t have the 800 race but it is in the sprint medley.”
Lakeshore Catholic won its heat in the sprint relay, led by an 800-meter anchor run by Carolyn Buri.
Huh has been impressed with the Grade 11 runner.
“This is my first year and all these athletes are new to me but just from practice, I have seen that she is very dedicated, she’s fit, she’s strong, she’s tenacious and she has all the ingredients to be a champion.”
The Edge Triathlon member is hoping to rebound from a fall cross country season which saw her miss qualifying for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations by a second.
“I had some negative thoughts at SOSSA. It was a rough race and from that I learned that a lot of it is having the mental strength. I know if I was more positive I could have easily made up that second and kept going,” she said. “I am really excited for track and the relay was a fun race.”
She enjoyed herself Friday.
“It’s a home meet and I was just trying to have fun. It just worked out well.”
Last spring, Buri qualified for OFSAA in the 800 metres and 1,500 metres but didn’t make the finals.
“When I was in the 800 preliminaries at OFSAA, I got tripped but I didn’t come last. I still passed one girl,” said the SOSSA 800-metre champion.
Her goals for this spring are much like last season’s.
“I am hoping to make OFSAA for both events and I want to have fun.”
The last goal is the most crucial.
“I think that is the most important thing, that I am enjoying the sport, working hard and having fun.”