Huziak posts best Muskie result at OFSAA

Joey Payeur

Sean Huziak missed his first chance at OFSAA glory in the javelin event on Friday.
But the Muskies’ lone double gold-medalist from the NWOSSAA championships rebounded in a big way Saturday–garnering a top throw of 40 metres to finish in seventh place out of 23 entrants in the Midget boys’ discus at the all-Ontario track and field championships in Belleville.
Huziak was the only Muskie to advance to a final in an event, and crack the top 10, in what was a stunning turnaround from the previous day.
His last-place finish in the field of 24 entrants in the javelin competition was accompanied by a best effort of 26.15m.
That was well back of his NWOSSAA-winning distance of 34.55m.
“Of course, I was disappointed in my javelin showing,” Huziak conceded.
“Fortunately, I was able to put the hard loss behind me and add almost three metres to my personal best in discus.”
The Grade 9 student said he was surprised by the athleticism of his rival competitors.
“OFSAA was a great learning experience for me,” he remarked.
“I learned that if I want to compete at that level, I need to step up my game and improve on my technique and continue to build strength.
“Coach [John] Dutton has been extremely supportive,” Huziak added.
“I appreciate the opportunity to go to OFSAA.”
Dutton said Huziak’s downfall in the javelin may have been more psychological than physical.
“He goes out there for the first time and the first kid throws it 58m on a practice throw,” he recalled.
“It’s understandable that [Huziak] would start to doubt whether he should be there.
“I like the fact he was able to stay level-headed after a real disappointing javelin day,” Dutton added.
Fellow Muskie Aaron Scheibler finished 16th in Midget boys’ discus–fouling on his first two throws before managing a toss of 32.06m in his final effort.
Scheibler also was 21st out of 24 in the Midget boys’ shot put, topping out at 10.59m.
Both marks were beneath what the ninth-grader put up in winning NWOSSAA gold in the shot put (12.17m) and silver in the discus (36.75m).
His older brother, Sekina, wound up in 11th place out of 24 entrants in the discus as the Muskies’ lone senior division rep.
The 2015 OFSAA gold-medalist in Midget boys’ discus reached 40.17m on his first throw but could go no farther on his next two, the last in which he fouled to end his chances.
“I’m very proud of my accomplishments at this OFSAA, even though this is my poorest overall performance at OFSAA,” Scheibler said.
“I was one of only three Grade 11s to even qualify for OFSAA in the senior category,” he noted.
“The top three throwers were all [‘victory lap’ aged] and the rest were Grade 12.
“I bested all of the other Grade 11s that qualified and most Grade 12s,” Scheibler added.
“I see only better roads ahead.”
Scheibler said his previous two OFSAA experiences helped prepare him for the challenge this year.
“It really helped me cope with the pressures to perform,” he remarked.
“I was really comfortable at this level of competition, and was relaxed and able to handle the mental pressures very well compared to some younger athletes.”
Meanwhile, Grace Petsnick wasn’t overly thrilled with her first OFSAA appearance, ending up 19th out of 23 in the Midget girls’ high jump.
Her top height of 1.40m was just behind her NWOSSAA-winning measurement of 1.41m.
“I was disappointed with myself, especially when I scratched at 1.30m on my first jump,” recounted the ninth-grader.
“High jump is a very new sport to me, so surrounded by so many new athletes, I was a little intimidated and I let my nerves get the best of me,” she admitted.
But Petsnick did take some positives from the trip.
“Even though I did not perform to my personal best, the experience was fantastic because I got to meet other Ontario athletes and talk with them about track,” she noted.
“I learned that track teams in southern Ontario have year-round track clubs and coaches, newer equipment, rubber tracks, and specialized coaches,” Petsnick added.
“We are not on a level playing field as they are, but our track team gets stronger and stronger every year.”
Carson Noga, the lone runner on the Muskies’ six-member contingent (its biggest ever at an OFSAA track and field event), bettered his NWOSSAA silver-medal mark of 57.64 seconds in the Midget boys’ 400m.
But his 56.93 still left the Grade 9 sprinter in 22nd place out of 24 in what was an eye-opening experience for him.
“Coming around my first corner, I thought I was in for a good race,” he recalled.
“Suddenly, first, second, and third [place] just blew by me running faster than I’d ever seen, and it only made me push harder to keep up.
“Even though I crossed the line in last, it was my best race and I’m proud of myself,” Noga added.
“I now know how much I have to train to keep up and it will be a lot of work, but it will pay off,” he predicted.
“Looking at the times of my other competitors, I realize sometimes you can’t be the number-one runner everywhere.”
Jill Calder came into the Midget girls’ shot put with the lowest-seeded distance at 7.17m, which gave her sixth place at NWOSSAA–a high enough placing to get her to OFSAA after the five finishers of her all declined to attend.
Calder dug even deeper in Belleville and came through for a personal best of 7.48m, which took the edge off finishing last among the 23 competitors in her event.
The Grade 9 athlete compared the all-Ontarios in track and field to her previous OFSAA journey this year with the Muskie girls’ hockey team.
“From hockey OFSAA, being only about 320 athletes, to track and field OFSAA, with over 2,500 athletes, is a huge difference,” she remarked.
“In hockey, everyone’s playing the same game at the same time,” she noted. “Down here [in Belleville], there is always eight different events going on at once.
“A hockey game is three 20-minute periods,” Calder added. “For shot put, you walk into the circle and there’s no going back, with each throw taking about 10 seconds.
“You can’t just put your first-line best players out to go get a goal,” she stressed.
“It’s an individual sport. You have no team to rally you up.”
With all six OFSAA qualifiers able to return next year Dutton said the horizon is boundless for the black-and-gold.
“They’re going to get better with more experience,” he noted.
“It was definitely worth the time and the effort to get them down there to be around the big kids, and learn to deal with all the distractions and not get thrown off their game,” he reasoned.