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Sharbot Lake high jumper hopes to improve standing at second OFSAA

June 5, 2013


Take a young man in Grade 9 from Ardoch, put him in a venue with more than 2,000 of the province’s best athletes, and you might think the setting would be a little daunting.

You might also expect that this weekend, when David Cox goes to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations track and field championships for the second time, he might find it easier to cope in such an exhaulted surrounding.

“Not really,” said Cox, the junior from Sharbot Lake High School, dismissing the notion after he won the East region high jump championship last Friday in Belleville.

“It’s a cool experience when you go there and they sit you down in a tent with all the other competitors … but in the end you’ve just got to try your hardest, like any other meet.”

Cox has been nothing if not consistent this year. He’s won the last three meets, all at 1.75 metres. His best performance 2012 was 1.66 metres, and he cleared 1.65 metres in finishing 15th at his aforementioned first OFSAA.

The best jump among juniors in the province last week was 1.82 metres and Cox’s coach, Melanie Robinson, believes that might be within her athlete’s grasp. Cox has cleared 1.80 metres in practice.

“We haven’t seen Dave’s true potential yet,” Robinson said. “I’m thinking he’s going to save his best for last at OFSAA.

“I think he’s capable of at least 1.85.”

Coaching Cox, Robinson said, is “an absolute pleasure.”

“He’s hard-working, always looking for ways he can improve.”

What impresses her most, however, is the way he thrives in competition.

“Some athletes, that pressure will get to them but he takes it as a challenge,” she said. “He always manages to stay really calm before he jumps and doesn’t let the situation bother him.

“He’s very calm and focused when he competes and I think that’s contributed a lot to his success.”

Technically, Robinson said, Cox generates good speed on his approach. When he gets in the air, he has what she calls “that hang time effect” that allows him to get his torso over the bar, often with room to spare.

“He’s really good at getting his first half over,” she said. “What he has to work on is kicking his feet up, popping that.”

That’s what doomed Cox on his final attempt at 1.80 metres in Belleville last Friday.

“I was hoping I had it but when my heel hit I knew (the bar) was coming off,” he said.

Cox had already won the competition at that point. The only two other jumpers to clear 1.75 had already failed three times at 1.80 and Cox had fewer misses at previous heights.

“There was no weight then on my shoulders. Either way, I knew I’d be going to OFSAA. It’s a good feeling to know there’s not much pressure.”

Robinson’s depiction of a calm and focused athlete notwithstanding, Cox said he was “pretty nervous” going into Friday’s competition.

“I was really excited to be here, nervous to qualify,” he said afterwards. “I was hoping to make it but I was just here for fun and to see if I could get a new personal best.”

His objective for OFSAA — junior boys high jump will be contested at noon, Saturday, at the Oshawa Civic Recreation Complex — are similarly modest.

“I’m hoping to beat 15th,” he said, “maybe Top 10. I’m going to set a goal for the Top 10.”

Nicole Zohorsky of Bayridge, who goes into the 64th Ontario high school championship meet as the No. 3 seed in midget girls 80-metre hurdles, not only won the East region championship last week, she did so with a time, 12.39 seconds, that was 24 one-hundredths of a second faster than the time at which the junior girls division of the same event was won.

The top time in the province last week was 12.09 seconds, by Kylie Paliani of Medway High School in Arva.

Napanee junior Leah Hill had a nine-meet undefeated streak in high school discus competition snapped at last week’s regional meet. She won all five meets she entered last year, and capped her season with the OFSAA midget gold medal. She’d won junior girls discus at four straight meets this season before she finished second last week at Belleville.

This spring she’s yet to come within a metre and a half of her OFSAA-winning throw of 32.53 metres. She’ll be trying for another personal best when the junior girls discus competition is held at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

Hill, however, does carry a five-meet winning streak into the junior girls shot put, where she is seeded 10th. That event will be contested Thursday afternoon at 5:30.

Likely no team is more determined to succeed this weekend than the boys 1,600-metre relay team from Sydenham High School.

The Golden Eagles won the county, eastern Ontario and East region championships and were seeded third for last year’s provincial meet, where they appeared to have won their heat before they were disqualified for an improper pass of the baton.

Three members of that team return — Ben Trickey, Jay Dearborn and Wade Embury, with Eamon Hillis replacing the graduated Hayden Peters — and, as last year, they’ve won the event at all three qualifying meets.

Their best time this year, 3 minutes 25.22 seconds, is about a second slower than last year’s time at the same point in the season and about two and a half seconds slower than the seed time posted by the top-ranked team, from Cameron Heights in Kitchener. Sarnia Northern, last year’s champion, is seeded second.

This will be the fourth OFSAA 4×4 appearance for Embury and the third for Trickey. Embury was a member of Sydenham’s silver-medal team in 2011, and he and Trickey were on the team that was seventh in 2010.

The last time OFSAA was held in Oshawa was 20 years ago. In 1993 Loyalist’s Danielle Froese (junior girls long jump), Sarah Pardy of Bayridge (junior girls high jump) and Taryn Turnbull of Frontenac (midget girls long jump) won gold medals.

Two teams from Loyalist won silver relay medals: The senior girls 4×100 team of Megan Pfeiffer, Froese, Rachel Joyce and Penny Ingram, and the open 4×400 team of Froese, Krissy Secker, Joyce and Ingram. In qualifying for OFSAA the 4×4 team set a regional record that stood until it was surpassed last Friday in Belleville by a team from Glebe Collegiate from Ottawa that finished in 3:59.55.

Twenty years later Froese’s three-medal performance remains the only one by a Kingston-area athlete in OFSAA history.

Essential OFSAA

What: 64th Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations track and field championships

Logistics: Thursday through Saturday at the Oshawa Civic Recreation Complex

Who: More than 2,200 high school athletes from across the province who qualified through three rounds of elimination meets at the local, area and region levels

When: Competition begins Thursday afternoon at 3 o’clock with heats in the steeplechase, 400 metres, 1,500 metres and 400-metre relay and finals in 10 field events; activity resumes Friday morning and concludes Saturday afternoon

Local content: Forty-nine athletes from 15 Kingston-area high schools will compete in 47 individual events and three relays


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