It was the individual stories that helped the Leaside High School track team excel at this year’s OFSAA meet in Guelph.
Sending a contingent of 26 members to Alumni Stadium at the University of Guelph from June 6 to 8, Leaside was set to take control of the festival.
New coach Ethan Davenport joined Helen Panayiotou to help the 35-member team reach its goals for the year if the weather cooperated.
“The challenges were dealing with the spring. We had to do a lot of indoor training,” he said, in a mid-June phone conversation. “The first couple of meets were freezing and pouring rain.”
Obviously the cold weather did not hamper spirits as Leaside brought home eight medals in total, including Isabella Goudros, competing a level up, with bronze in sprint hurdles and silver in the 200-metre; Sophie Coutts with a bronze in the 800-metre and silver in the 1500-metre; Chloe Coutts with a bronze in the 3000-metre; Remy Cattell, Sophie Coutts, Kate Denomme, Sara Escallon and Arden La Rose won bronze in 4×400-metre relay; Liam Rivard with a bronze in senior boys 800-metre and Weagbe Mombo won the gold in the 100-metre.
Most of the team trains outside of Leaside, but several non-club athletes did well, including Mombo. The Grade 9 has had a strong start in football and basketball and has brought his natural athleticism to the track team.
“Most of the kids are training with outside clubs. A lot of their training is full year,” Davenport said. “It’s interesting to see, in Grade 9 you have these people jump out. Weagbe is one of those.”
On the senior side, Remy Cattell, who failed to qualify for OFSAA last year, turned up her efforts to earn a medal with the relay team and pick up enough points to help the Senior Girls win the track banner. She qualified for the 1500-metre and 3000-metre races.
“The 3K was a new event for her at OFSAA, and she just ran out of her mind,” Davenport said. “She wasn’t ranked in the 15, to move on in the final and finished fifth. She picked up two ribbons and two points.”
The Coutts twins, Grade 10, were pleased with their efforts, even though illness and weather gave them challenges. On Day 2, Sophie came down with a cold.
“I woke up and I was sick. I was sick for the whole weekend,” she said, in a phone interview. “I just ran. I knew it wouldn’t be the best outcome, but it turned out well.”
Three medals aren’t bad at all, plus the banner. Sister Chloe turned in one of her best performances, earning her first OFSAA medal as well in the 3000-metre.
“I would say, it was a slow race, so obviously the time didn’t matter,” Chloe said. “It was just building confidence for more races. I haven’t medalled before. I think it’s a good step in the direction of my improvement.”
Even in the heat, the team fared well, and the cache full of medals lifted the spirits of all 26 team members, with Cattell, Denomme and Rivard ending their senior years on a winning note.
“That was an important moment, not just winning individual medals, but having our team do so well,” Chloe Coutts said.
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