OTTAWA – North Dundas District High School will be sending a dozen athletes to compete in 26 events at EOSSAA after a very strong showing at the SD&G track and field championships at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility Tues., May 8.

The top four finishers in each event move on to the EOSSAA championships in Kingston Thurs., May 24 and Fri., May 25 and this year’s NDDHS track team is made up of primarily midget and junior athletes.

This year’s SD&G championships saw a noticeable increase in athletes in the midget category and the same applies to the NDDHS team, which is encouraging for coach Patti Hall.

“It is encouraging to see more Grade 9 and 10 students coming out because we were starting to dwindle down a couple of years ago. I think I only had 12 total at one point so it will be back up to 20-plus, which is awesome. With the majority being Grade 9 and 10 [students] I think we’re in a building cycle,” said Hall. 

Back: Jamie MacFarlane (left), Alayna Gaudette, Jessica Barkley, Katy Van Schyndel, Fabienne Puenter, Mia Ziegler, Ashley Wasylko Fletcher, Amber Harper, and coach Patti Hall. Middle: Zac Hamilton (left), Brais Canitrot, Curtis Bell, Justin Schoenfeld, Liam Antille, Jack Ciavaglia, Adam Barkley, Tyler Snelson, Parker Watt, and Jaymen Heuff. Front: Dylan Barkley (left), Shaina Vandemheen Press Photo – Schoch

Midget division
Long-distance runner Ashley Wasylko Fletcher who Hall described as “a great runner with a great attitude and very committed,” will be competing in three events at EOSSAA with a 1st place finish in the 1,500-metres, 2nd in 800-metres and 3rd in 400-metres.

Tyler Snelson also had a strong day with a 2nd in 200-metres, 3rd in 100-metres and 3rd in long jump.

Mia Ziegler placed 2nd in 300-metre hurdles, Parker Watt 4th in 100-metres and Amber Harper also qualified with 4th in shot put.

Junior division
Leading the way for the juniors was Curtis Bell with a 1st place finish in 200-metres and a pair of 2nd place finishes in 300-m hurdles and 100-metre sprint.

Fabienne Puenter also had a strong day with a 2nd in 800-metres, 2nd in the 1,500-metre steeplechase and 3rd place in the 300-metre hurdles.

Liam Antille scored a pair of firsts in the 100-metre hurdles and 300-metre hurdles while Zac Hamilton came out on top in long jump with a distance of 5.89m. Hamilton went to OFSAA last year and Hall believes he has a chance to excel again this year.  “He’s really focused on track much more this year than last year. I think he’ll do very well,” she said.

Justin Schoenfeld will join his teammates with a 2nd place finish in 800-metres and a 4th in 1,500-metres.

Alayna Gaudette will compete in three events at EOSSAA with a 2nd place finish in javelin, 4th in shot put and 4th in discus.

Ashley Wheeler will be the lone senior to compete with a 2nd in the 1500-metres, 4th in long jump, 3rd in the 1,500-metre steeplechase.

Both the midget and junior boys 4×100-metre relay teams qualified with impressive first place finishes with coach Hall saying “they looked great. They were head and shoulders above the other teams.”

Jaymen Hueff, Parker Watt, Adam Barkley and Tyler Snelson comprise the midget team while Zac Hamilton, Liam Antille, Jack Ciavaglia and Curtis Bell make up the junior side.

Hall has high hopes for her athletes heading into EOSSAA in Kingston.

“I do think our relay teams will qualify. Hamilton, Antille, Bell and Snelson should all qualify. I think we might have 10 runners moving on to regionals, which will be exciting because we haven’t had that many in a few years,” she said.

While the ranks of the track and field team at NDDHS has started to grow again, the sport is a bit of a different animal for students to tackle.

“Something like track is a different kind of commitment because you can only rely on yourself. You can only blame yourself when you don’t do well, but you’re the only one that takes the credit too at the end. So, sometimes we find kids have a hard time committing to track because it’s only you. But there’s been a core group of about 15 kids that have come out two to three times a week every week since before March and putting in a lot of time and effort and it’s showing in their performances right now,” said Hall. “Even though track is individual there is that team spirit of cheering each other on and training together. So you want that. They’ve developed some new friendships and the whole fit for life idea. It is a lot of hard work but if you put in the work you get the pay off in the end.”

When asked if she ever compares her own times, Hall, the former sprinter and hurdler, laughed.

“Well I sometimes compare my times from when I was that age but I never tell them that. I don’t often say how I did. I loved track when I was running it and I hope they love it as much as I do,” she said.