The better part of the Muskie track-and-field team is young with not much experience, but they’ve proven their skill time and time again this season.
But perhaps their most impressive accomplishment came last week at the NWOSSAA championships in Thunder Bay, where the junior athletes claimed their first-ever trophy.
Overall, 11 Muskies qualified for the all-Ontarios, which is the most Fort High has ever sent.
They include Carson Noga, Caelin Mayhew, Ben Olson, Sean Huziak, Aaron Scheibler, Sekina Scheibler, Grace Petsnick, Jacey Gagne, Jill Calder, Kamryn Sandelovich, and Tori Toriseva.
Head coach John Dutton is expecting his athletes will keep the momentum going heading into the all-Ontarios that kick off tomorrow and run through Saturday in Toronto.
“We know what we are up against in Toronto,” Dutton conceded.
“Triple and quad ‘A’ schools have so much depth in their teams,” he remarked. “The training facilities are better, they have more meet experience, and let’s face it–they have better, more qualified coaching.
“What are my expectations for OFSAA? The same as they have been all season,” Dutton added.
“They will go there and give everything of themselves, do their best, support their fellow teammates, and have fun doing what they love to do,” he enthused.
Dutton noted that in practice this week ahead of OFSAA, it would be vital for the athletes to focus on the fundamentals while working on quick drills.
“If the kids can trust their technique, we can look for some strong results in Toronto,” he reasoned.
“Our relay teams will be doing lots of baton exchange work to try and shave off a few more seconds from their times.”
The junior contingent was particularly stellar last Tuesday and Wednesday in nabbing the NWOSSAA title in Thunder Bay.
“It was great to see the junior team take the team trophy this year,” said Dutton.
“I knew they would be contenders as they placed send last year in the Midget division,” he noted.
Toriseva won the junior girls’ 3,000m race (12:52.03) while Alacea Yerxa nabbed bronze in the 1,500m (6:31.11).
It was a Muskie podium sweep in high jump, with Petsnick taking gold (1.48m), Sandelovich grabbing silver (1.40), and Katrina Slomke claiming bronze (1.15).
Petsnick also won silver in long jump (4.67m) while Slomke was sixth (3.68) and Yerxa was ninth (3.39).
Calder finished second in shot put (8.51m), third in discus (17.13) and fourth in javelin (20.34).
Toriseva placed ninth in shot put (6.49m) and eighth in javelin (15.30).
Among the junior boys, meanwhile, Noga claimed gold in both of the 200m (24.54) and 400m races (54.19), along with silver in the 100m dash (12.30).
He also helped pace Fort High’s 4x100m relay team to victory for his fourth medal at NWOSSAA.
Other members of that team include Mayhew, Olson, and Huziak.
Olson earned silver in high jump (1.61m) while Aaron Scheibler won gold in shot put (12.29).
Huziak placed fourth in shot put (11.15m)
Huziak and Brady Meeks were second and third in discus (39.37m and 32.47m), then switched positions in javelin (39.91m and 36.90m).
And the Muskie girls’ 4x100m relay team, consisting of Gagne, Sandelovich, Petsnick, and Calder, nabbed gold (58.33).
Sekina Scheibler set a new senior boys’ NWOSSAA long jump record (6.21m) and was awarded top male athlete after placing first in all three of his events in Thunder Bay.
He also took home gold in shot put (13.40m) and discus (42.12).
“I can’t say enough about Sekina’s accomplishments this season,” Dutton lauded.
“As one of our team captains, he has provided leadership and encouragement to his team members, and no doubt inspires others with his successes on the field.”
Dutton also said that triple gold and top athlete is a tremendous feat for Scheibler at the senior level.
“It’s been four years since Sekina advanced to OFSAA in three events: shot put, discus and long jump,” he recalled.
“The same events as in his Grade 9 year when he brought home a gold in discus,” he noted. “So maybe history will repeat itself.”
Ellie Petsnick won bronze in senior girls’ high jump (1.40m).
Jyllian Westover placed 11th in long jump (3.80m), Petsnick was 14th (3.61), and Sarah Rittau was 17th (3.15).
In the Midget girls’ division, Kenna Spuzak took home silver in the 800m race (2:24.93) while also placing sixth in the 400m (1:16.63).
Ashlyn Beck nabbed silver in the 1,500m (5:35.85) and bronze in the 1,500m steeplechase open class (6:10.44).
The Muskie 4x400m relay team–consisting of Grace Pestnick, Nadia Webb, Yerxa, and Toriseva–won bronze in the open class (4:54.97).
“I am really pleased and proud of all the athletes,” enthused Dutton.
“Many of these athletes have been doing strength and conditioning training since mid-January in preparation for this moment, and clearly their hard work has paid off,” he remarked.
“Coach Angela Petsnick and I were really happy to see John Gibson join as our throwing coach this season,” Dutton added.
“His athletes will be well-represented at OFSAA.”
Dutton said there were two things that really impressed him about this year’s team.
“The way that they came together as a team, supported one another, encouraged one another, and gelled as a team and the level of performance improvement across the whole team,” he cited.
“This is a really coachable group, anxious to learn and to improve,” he stressed.
“It will be difficult to choose a ‘most improved’ athlete this season,” Dutton said.