It’s tough to measure the dedication, determination, and discipline needed for an elite athlete to reach the upper echelons of their sport.
It’s even more astonishing and extremely rare when that athlete manages to accomplish the feat in two sports.
Heather Dutton is no ordinary athlete, whether she travels by land or by sea — well, swimming pool, anyway.
This past weekend was one to remember for the Grade 12 student at Fort Frances High School, who became the first Muskie athlete to qualify for the all-Ontario cross-country running championships since the program was re-started at the school last year.
While confirmation could not be acquired before press time, it is possible that Dutton is in fact the first Muskie runner ever to make it to the OFSAA level, thanks to her second-place finish at the NWOSSAA championships in Thunder Bay on Friday.
From there, Dutton hightailed it over to the local aquatic centre in Thunder Bay, where she hooked up with her teammates from the Fort Frances Aquanauts Swim Team at the fall season’s opening meet put on by the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts.
Most people would have been worn out after giving their all on the cross-country trail. But Dutton didn’t disappear, she delivered.
A trio of first-place finishes at the meet (50 and 100-metre fly and 200-metre free), along with a pair of seconds, were the net result of Dutton’s pool participation.
Okay, so she also had a seventh-place finish, and she didn’t set any personal bests. But this is hardly the time for nitpicking.
Reverence for accomplished two-sport athletes shouldn’t be reserved for just the professional athletes of the world, like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. The amateurs deserve the respect of the sports-watching community, as well.
It will be a hard act to follow for Dutton. But something tells me she’s got an encore or two left in her.
• • •
A couple of slip-ups on my part in last week’s paper that aren’t a big deal in the whole scheme of things, but still are worth correcting.
I mentioned last week the hiring of local resident Urban Bowman as defensive line coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the rest of this season. I had Bowman listed as being from Fort Frances (following the lazy example of a certain Winnipeg daily paper).
Truth be told, Bowman’s current residence is in the Burriss area. A small town boy like me should know the importance of not forgetting the tinier dots on the map.
Secondly, I had the absences of Carley McCormick and Rebecca Cornell from the senior girls Muskies basketball team for their match-up in Dryden on Oct. 9 as being due to university visits scheduled for the two players.
The real reason was the two were in attendance at the wedding of a mutual friend of their families living in southern Ontario.
My apologies to the Bowmans, McCormicks, and Cornells for my misrepresentations. I’ve got to lay off the generic brand pop — it’s dissolving what’s left of my brain cells.
• • •
Heads up, pool sharks: there’s some big-time bank shot action coming to town.
Warp 9 will be the site of the 32-person “Battle of the Border” eight-ball tournament, featuring some of the best amateur players from all over Northwestern Ontario, as well as Minnesota.
The event is open to the public, and gets underway at noon on Saturday, with the finals scheduled tentatively for 8 p.m. Sunday evening.
Call Carey Gosselin at 274-7330 for more information.
• • •
Former Borderland Thunder defenceman Chris Shaen, an integral part of the team’s blueline in their championship run last year, has found a home with the Port Huron Beacons of the United Hockey League (UHL), with the regular season set to begin this Saturday.
Shaen is joined on the Port Huron roster by former Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs forward Trevor Karasiewicz, the SIJHL’s scoring leader last year. New seasons make for curious bedfellows, indeed, but Karasiewicz isn’t the most interesting teammate Shaen has this year.
That title would belong to a 31-year-old centre from Brantford, Ont. with fairly decent bloodlines. His older brother said a record or two in his day.
Chris Shaen, meet Brent Gretzky.
• • •
Call it The Fast and the Furious 3.
Fort Frances native Rustyn Dolyny will suit up for his third straight season with the UHL’s Muskegon Fury as he continues to chase his dream of a spot in the big league.
Dolyny was only signed last Tuesday by the Fury after trying out with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Last year, Dolyny had 51 points in 61 games with Muskegon, and also spent time with the Lowell Loch Monsters of the AHL, where he registered nine points in 12 games before returning to the Fury for the post-season, where they lost in the second round to the Quad City Mallards.
The 26-year-old right winger helped the Fury to the 2001 Colonial Cup championship, symbolic of UHL supremacy. He also has one of the catchier nicknames in hockey, which is mentioned on the Fury’s Web site — Rusto Bravissimo.
• • •
Another local blader plying his puck trade elsewhere is former Quebec Nordiques and Calgary Flames forward Chris Lindberg.
The 36-year-old Olympic silver medalist with the 1992 Team Canada entry at the Winter Games in Albertville was the top scorer for Swiss “B” League squad HC Ajoie last season. But it still wasn’t good enough for his employers, and the Fort Frances native was released after the season.
He has now caught on with VSV Villach of the Austrian Bundesliga, where he has five points in his first six games, including one game-winning goal.
Lindberg has been invited to play for Team Canada in several international tournaments over the years, and most likely will earn more invitations to do so, given his experience at the international level.