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Jonathan Besselink a winner in first attempt at the steeplechase

April 26, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

From the time he began to compete on a high school track, Jonathan Besselink was intrigued by the steeplechase.

The appeal, he said, lies in “the grit it takes to run it.”

“It’s tough.”

Friday morning at the first Limestone Legacy track and field meet at Caraco Field, Besselink ran it for the first time and even though he won the race, he discovered just how difficult the steeplechase is.

“It was tougher than I thought it would be,” he said. “I didn’t know what the pace was going to be like, but once I got going I kind of figured it out.”

Besselink is used to running long races. In his first two years at Holy Cross, he competed in the 3,000, 1,500 and 800 metres on the track — he ran the 800 in under two minutes at the provincial championship last year in Oshawa — and he also runs cross-country in the fall so the length of the 2,000-metre steeplechase wasn’t a problem.

Jumping over those big barriers? He’d never done that before Friday, not even in practice.

Kevin Bates of Regiopolis Notre Dame, a teammate of Besselink with the Achilles running group and a steeplechase veteran, tried to be helpful.

“He showed me some hurdle techniques,” Besselink said, “but I didn’t really take them that well, I guess.

“I had to stutter a few times getting over them. I led with my left leg and then tried to get up on the hurdle with my right and jump down. At the water, I just launched myself off. It was freezing.”

The race was close at the end, with Besselink finishing in 6 minutes 36.13 seconds, edging Ollie Blecher of Port Hope Trinity by 54 one-hundredths of a second. Bates was third, three and a half seconds behind.

After the race, Besselink explained that the attraction to the steeplechase was by no means sudden. Because it is an open event, with athletes from all age groups lumped into one field, he thought it prudent to bide his time.

“In Grade 9 or 10 it would be tough going against Grade 12s or 13s,” he said. “I always planned to try it in Grade 11.”

To get into the field at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship in Mississauga this spring, Besselink will have to improve his time by about 20 seconds over the next month or so. He said he had no expectation for his first foray into the event Friday.

“Not (with respect to) time so much,” he said, “just being competitive, doing my best to win. I sat in third (place) and let my training partner, Kevin, take all the wind, then with about 150 (metres) left I started to kick it in.”

Besselink said he plans to keep the steeplechase in his repertoire for the season, along with the 1,500 and 800 metres.

Friday’s meet was the first preseason meet of the high school track and field season. The Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association championships will be held Thursday and Friday, May 15-16, at Caraco Field and Richardson Stadium.

 

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