They ran fast, threw far, and jumped as long and high as they could.
It was an excellent two days of competition for the Muskie track-and-field team at the NWOSSAA championships held in Thunder Bay last Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fort High will be sending eight athletes to the OFSAA track-and-field championships, which kick off tomorrow and runs through Saturday at Guelph University, much to the delight of Muskie coach John Dutton.
“I have been coaching track at FFHS since 2006 and I have to say that, as a team, this was our best NWOSSAA result,” he lauded.
“Most of our senior athletes are Grade 11, which means that they are in year one of that division. This puts them up against competitors that are often one, two and even three years older, which can be a huge difference in terms of strength, speed, and experience.
“But our senior athletes not only held their own against the competition, in many cases they challenged for top spot,” he enthused.
Among the girls, Alacea Yerxa qualified for the all-Ontarios by nabbing silver in the senior 800m race (3:13.18) and bronze in the 1500m one (6:44.21).
Tori Toriseva, meanwhile, took gold in the 1500m (5:59.90) while Emma Bone was golden in the Midget girls’ javelin throw (16.31m).
The girls’ open division 4x400m relay squad of Ayiana Gagne, Kenna Spuzak, Grace Petsnick, and Cassie Krawchuk nabbed gold with a time of 4:49.27.
Sean Huziak was the lone male Muskie to qualify for OFSAA, snaring gold in the senior discus (34.56m).
“Our team not only achieved PRs, but they also far surpassed anything that I have seen from Fort High athletes in my 13 years as coach,” Dutton lauded.
“Our younger athletes also came up with big performances in Thunder Bay, and as a result we have three Grade 9s traveling to OFSAA: Ayiana Gagne, Emma Bone, and Cassie Krawchuk, and 1 grade 10, Kenna Spuzak.
“But what is most exciting to me as a coach, is the fact that our athletes are competitive in all events,” he added.
“On the track, we have talented sprinters and distance runners, while in the field events we have some very strong throwers and jumpers, and only one athlete graduating in June.
“It really bodes well for the future of track-and-field at Fort Frances High School,” Dutton noted.
Other female Muskie results at NWOSSA last week included Petsnick finishing just shy of the podium and winding up fourth in the senior girls’ long jump event (4.75m) while Katrina Slomke was ninth (3.52m).
Petsnick also snared silver in senior girls’ high jump (1.35m) while Slomke was disqualified.
Ayiana Gagne took silver in Midget girls’ high jump with a height of 1.25m while Bone nabbed silver in both the Midget shot put event (7.70m) and discus (14.71m).
Mikaelah Yerxa wound up eighth in senior girls’ shot put (6.67m) while also placing fourth in discus (19.72m).
Alacea Yerxa, meanwhile, was sixth in discus (19.21m).
Ayiana Gagne snared bronze in the Midget girls’ 1500m race (5:48.82) while Emma Toriseva wound up seventh (6:24.87) and Spuzak ran to a fifth-place finish in the junior girls’ 1500m (6:26.15).
Krawchuk finished just shy of the podium in the Midget girls’ 400m dash, winding up fourth with a time of 1:09.00 while Spuzak grabbed bronze in the junior race (1:18.71).
Krawchuk also wound up seventh in the Midget girls’ 100m dash (14.49) while placing fifth in the 200m race (29.25).
Spuzak was seventh in the junior girls’ 800m race while Maya Davis finished eighth in Midget girls’ long jump (3.54m).
Ayiana Gagne nabbed silver in the Midget girls’ 800m race (2:45.28) while Anna Gagne was seventh (3:06.57).
Tori Toriseva placed fifth in the senior girls’ javelin throw (18.96m) while Mikaelah Yerxa was eighth (12.03m).
Petsnick earned bronze in the senior girls’ triple jump (10.33m).
Tori Toriseva nabbed silver in the senior girls’ 3000m race (13:02.70).
Emma Toriseva was fourth in the Midget race (14:16.19) while Anna Gagne was seventh (15:06.10).
The Midget girls’ 4x100m relay team of Krawchuk, Joyce Wu, Ayiana Gagne and Anna Gagne snared silver (57.51).
In boys’ action, meanwhile, Josh McGinnis nabbed silver in the junior boys’ triple jump event (10.68m) while Braydon Christiansen was seventh (8.75m).
Huziak snared bronze in senior boys’ shot put (11.07m) while Ryan Stewart placed seventh (9.59m).
Huziak also wound up fifth in senior javelin (39.75m).
James Furlong had the top Muskie finish in junior boys’ long jump, finishing eighth with a jump of 4.97m.
He was followed by McGinnis in 10th (4.55m) and Christiansen in 13th (4.11m).
Stewart wound up sixth in senior boys’ discus with a toss of 25.99m.
Matthew Watts was sixth in the Midget boys’ 1500m race (5:26.55) while Furlong nabbed sixth spot in the junior one (5:12.22).
Owen Riches took fifth spot in the senior boys’ 1500m (4:50.07) while Ben Olson was eighth (5:46.87).
Jesse Marschalk snared bronze in the Midget boys’ 400m dash (59.88) and Andre Hendrix wound up seventh (1:09.48).
Carson Noga cruised to silver in the senior 400m dash (53.10) while Caelin Mayhew was fifth (58.29).
Noga also wound up fifth in the senior boys’ 100m dash (12.22).
Marschalk placed fifth in the Midget boys’ 100m dash (13.38) with Hendrix just behind (13.98).
Marschalk also ended up seventh in the 200m race (26.97).
Noga was fourth in the senior 200m dash (23.88) while Mayhew was eighth (25.00).
Riches had the top Muskie finish in the senior 800m race, winding up fifth (2:20.36) followed by Olson in ninth (2:44.65).
Furlong finished fifth in the junior race (2:35.46) while Christiansen was ninth (2:50.88).
Riches was the lone Muskie in the senior 3000m race, winding up fourth (10:39.90) while Watts placed fifth in the Midget race (12:08.52).
Olson finished just shy of the podium in senior boys’ high jump in winding up fourth (1.63m).
Stewart was the lone Muskie in senior boys’ long jump, finishing ninth with a jump of 4.83m.
The senior boys’ 4x100m relay team of Noga, Mayhew, Stewart, and Huziak earned bronze with a time of 48.87.
The junior squad, which is comprised of Marschalk, McGinnis, Furlong, and Hendrix, nabbed silver (51.79).
And the senior 4x400m open relay squad, comprised of Noga, Mayhew, Marschalk, and Riches, took bronze with a time of 3:58.41.
As a team, the Muskies finished third in the senior division, fifth in the Midget division, and seventh in the junior one.
“I was very pleased with the team’s performance at NWOSSAA last week, out of 86 events entered–over 70 were PRs for the athletes,” Dutton recalled.
“It’s pretty hard for a coach to ask for more than that.”
In terms of how his squad was preparing for this week’s all-Ontarios, Dutton said that they would be doing their training as usual.
“We know that we are up against some incredible athletes, and we can’t stress about our chances,” he urged.
“Our focus will be, as always, on technique. Our goal? To achieve new PRs in Guelph, have some fun, and come back feeling excited about next season,” he added.