Rookies bring new life to track team

Newtonbrook grade 9s Nadjea Morris and Junior Aljoe shoot their way to OFSAA

Newtonbrook’s got a bright new future in their young North Stars Junior Aljoe and Nadjea Morris.

The two track and field stars represented their North York school at OFSAA in the 800-metre and shotput respectively.

But it’s not the OFSAA qualifying that has coach David Tepper beaming. It’s the fact the grade 9s got their motors running on their own.

“For me it’s been a great experience to see two students very keen and excited, willing to work hard, willing to follow instructions and the effort has really paid off,” he said.

Right from the starting gate Morris gave it her go.

“We don’t have a throws coach, he retired, she was very self-directed,” Tepper said. “She would go out there. It’s a lot of getting the technique down for the shot in order to throw it with the right angle.”

Claiming gold in shotput and qualifying for Metros in discus, Morris was returning to the Metros she had advanced to in grade 8. A second gold was to come her way at Centennial Park in Etobicoke in the shot but a nail-biter ensued with the discus.

“She missed qualifying by two centimeters, the other girl on the last throw made it in,” Tepper said. “I don’t want to say it was a heartbreaker, because she threw a personal best but it was very dramatic.”

Aljoe was right there with her, basking in the task of his first year of competition. Although shy, he did admit he was surprised to get to Middlesex County for the meet.

“Regionals were pretty good. I was pretty confident going into that,” he said. “At citys I wasn’t even sure I was going to OFSAA.”

Hitting the podium for a gold in the 800 metre, one silver in 1500 and 4×1 relay as well as a bronze in 4×4 relay, the regionals gave Aljoe a boost.

He qualified for OFSAA by placing fourth in the 800 at Metros.

“I was coming up last, second last and at my last kick I made it up to fourth,” he said.

Aljoe finished 23rd in London. Even though he missed the top 10, he was thrilled with the opportunity to see some of the best young athletes from across the province compete. So was Morris.

Tepper lauded his two rookies for their competitive edge.

“I know in grade 9 a lot of times students won’t come out and join a team,” he said. “For them to come in and actively seek out, trying to improve, it’s really incredible the way they take in advice and their work ethic.

“As a coach you feel very excited and feel very privileged when you have athletes like that.”


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By: Brian Baker
Posted: Jun 11 2010 11:29 am
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto
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