Midtown archers hit the mark in invitational

Did a high school rivalry spark between the top two teams at the Ontario High School Archery Invitational Tournament, held May 14–15 at Richmond Green in Richmond Hill?

Leaside Lancers maintained their hold on the Girls’ Standard Class division, winning gold both as a team and individually, but some new kids on the nock, from John Polanyi Collegiate, brought home their school’s first athletic banner in the Boys’ Standard Class.

The Jaguars’ Thinh Ho finished first with 419 total points and won the Bow Award, given to the highest scoring standard class archer who is shooting on school-owned equipment and will be returning the next year. Also on the winning squad were Shaz Asher, who finished fourth, Johnpark Reyes, 17th, and Aditya Harchand, 29th.

The team swiped the title from city rivals Leaside High School with 1,374 points. Leaside had 1,180.

While setting up targets inside John Polanyi’s smaller gym on May 26, head coach Vernon Kee was enthusiastic about his team’s prize.

“This school gets a real bad rap from a lot of people, and this is one of the positive things,” he said.

Kee said when the team was first announced 100 students turned out. He split them into groups and held practices before and after school.

Starting early in the year the team faced rounds of in-class lessons, a safety test where hopefuls had to score 100 percent, and nine practices a week — driven by the students.

Likewise, Leaside head coach Michael Griffin was boosted by his girls who won their second straight, all while acknowledging the first year victors JPCI.

“Vernon [Kee] used to be the coach at Danforth Collegiate, apparently he’s my competition now in the standard,” Griffin said of Kee. “Last year we won gold in both the boys and girls standard division. This year was a bit of an upset.”

Griffin is in his second year as head coach, taking over from Andrea Weleff who coached both the boys and girls for 35 years before retiring. And there’s a long-standing tradition of Lancers dominations at the provincials.

“The girls seem to always come in and get first,” Griffin said. “They’ve gotten first nine times out of the last 13 years.”

Grade 11 student Vicky Huang led the squad, netting a team gold, as well as an individual gold. Leaside grabbed 1,432 points as a team to JPCI’s sixth place finish of 996 points. The Jaguars’ top finisher was Sara Santos, who finished eighth. Melalee Gordon took 27th, Hilary Nguyen 34th, Fadomo Heneke 47th, and Helen Trinh 50th.

Leaside’s Huang was modest about the team’s success, even though she earned gold with a score of 397, just shy of 400, the goal for most archers.

JPCI’s Harchand shot down the notion of rivalries.

“It’s not that much of a competition,” he said. “Even at the tournament people were busy making friends rather than going up to them and saying, ‘We’re better than you’.

“Even though we did take the title away from [Leaside], there are no hard feelings.”

Bishop Strachan School won the Girls’ Olympic Class title with a team score of 2,009, burying silver medallist Streetsville Secondary School, who had a score of 1,954.

Leading the way for the Bobcats were Dania Abu-Sharkh and Katie Rockburn, who finished tied for seventh with a score of 520. Krista Tuerk finished 13th, Sydney Dezen, 23rd and Nicole Travis, 33rd.