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Record-breaking performance by Anthony Donnet highlights local results at East region track

May 31, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

OTTAWA — It was carnival day Friday at Queen Elizabeth Collegiate, and before he left to compete at the East region track meet, Anthony Donnet had his face painted with the school colours.

On the drive to the competition, he decided to keep red, gold and white markings.

“He said, ‘People will think I did this to intimidate them, but I didn’t,’” coach Joanna Belfer said.

Whether it was for luck or to reflect school spirit, Donnet wasn’t saying, but in any case, it quickly became moot. If Donnet’s fellow competitors in the midget boys high jump were intimidated, it was because of his jumping, not his facial adornment.

Under a sunny sky — the first one he’s experienced at a meet this spring — Donnet set a new record, clearing the bar at 1.81 metres. That surpassed the standard of 1.80 that has stood since Jason Steels of Regiopolis Notre Dame set it in 2006.

That was the only record established by a Kingston-area athlete on the final day of the meet, the last of three events that qualified competitors for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships, next week in Mississauga.

Donnet is one of 70 local athletes who finished in the top four in their respective events and earned the right to advance. They represent 13 schools and they’ll contest 55 of 100 individual events and four of the eight relays at the 65th annual provincial high school championships, beginning Thursday.

It’s been a remarkable season for Donnet. He won the Kingston Area championship at 1.45 metres, then bumped that up to 1.71 a week ago when he won the eastern Ontario title.

“I was hoping to win,” he said of his expectation for Friday’s event. “I didn’t think I would jump 1.80.”

He described the competition as hard — “they’re good jumpers,” he said — and he scoffed at the suggestion that he made it look easy. “I was nervous, very nervous.”

The county elementary school record holder since Grade 6, Donnet was among the top three athletes coming into the event, based on their performance last week. Only he and Cole Fraser of Carleton Place Notre Dame remained in the competition after 1.68 metres, and Donnet missed on his first attempt at 1.71.

He made his first attempt at 1.74 (Fraser got it on his third try) and Donnet was over the bar at 1.77 metres, also on his first attempt. When Fraser missed his third jump, Donnet was the winner.

The bar was set one centimetre above the standing record and Donnet cleared it on his second attempt. At that point, he called it a day.

“It was a boost of confidence knowing that I’d already won,” he said. “I wasn’t planning to set the record, so I wasn’t worried about setting it.”

Donnet began the competition by passing at the first two heights but he then faulted on his first jump at 1.50 metres.

“We laughed about it a little bit because he can scissor that,” Belfer said. “He was going to scissor, and then he was going to flop. He changed his mind, and he ended up faulting on it which was interesting, but he got in a groove.”

Belfer said there was something about the facility that seemed to agree with Donnet.

“He’s always had that jumping ability; we’ve always known he could jump,” she said, “but he’s struggled a little bit figuring out his approach. We’ve been working on it, and his approach and acceleration phase just clicked today. He was jumping to his left, and something just clicked.”

The performance was a huge personal best for Donnet, who hadn’t cleared better than 1.75 metres, not even in practice.

“He’s a hard worker and I think the success is driving him more and more,” Belfer suggested. At the beginning of the season, he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll jump,’ but he wasn’t so sure. He jumped in elementary school, but he wasn’t sure how to prepare. He didn’t know how good he could be. It was, ‘Sure, I’ll try it.’

“Then he won our first practice meet, had a little bit of success, so it was like, ‘Maybe I’ll work a little harder,’ and then at KASSAA, he won that, and he was, like, ‘OK,’ and then EOSSAA, and he won that. With each little bit of confidence he’s gained, that drive to do this is coming along nicely. It’s nice to see.”

Donnet was one of 11 local athletes to win an event Friday.

Among them, Cameron Linscott of Kingston Collegiate snagged his second victory of the meet in the junior boys 3,000 metres, following a victory in the 1,500 metres on Thursday night. He won the 3,000 in 8 minutes, 58.25 seconds, with not only an 18-second margin of victory, but a time that is 33 seconds better than the one he ran just two weeks ago in winning the Kingston Area championship.

Adam Burggraf, the midget thrower from Bayridge, also won two events, discus and javelin, both on Friday. In the latter, his best attempt, 46.87 metres, was three metres beyond the throw that won him the eastern Ontario championship last week.

Among the other local event winners were two disabled athletes, Danny Amaral of Regiopolis Notre Dame in the boys 100 metres for the intellectually impaired, and Shirley Hughes of Sydenham, in the ambulatory girls 100 metres.

The other winners were:

• Ben Workman of Kingston, who passed two opponents in the final 200 metres to win the senior boys 3,000 metres in 8 minutes 45.42 seconds, just three seconds off the time with which he won the junior bronze medal at OFSAA last year;

• Ryland Clark of Napanee, who won midget boys 100-metre hurdles in 15.46 seconds, a season-best electronic time;

• Sydenham’s Brianna McComish, who, though second at the county meet, won midget girls high jump for the second week in a row, this time at 1.45 metres;

• Holy Cross senior Kenya Costa-Dookhan, who is going to OFSAA for the fourth year in a row, after she won the long jump at 5.27 metres;

• Regi’s Hailey Wolfgram, the provincial bronze medalist as a midget a year ago, who is going back to OFSAA as the East region’s junior girls shot put champion;

• Emily Fawcett of Holy Cross, who surpassed 29 metres for the third week in a row and won her third straight midget girls discus competition.

The only local relay team to win its event was Holy Cross in senior boys division of the 400-metre relay, where Jake Gurnsey, Brodie Blaskie, Josh Chevarie and Darien Leblanc led the field in 44.10 seconds. It was a tremendous performance not only for the fact they took more than two seconds off their fourth-place time of a week ago, but for the fact they defeated two teams, Arnprior and Carleton Place, that finished ahead of them at the EOSSAA meet.

Perhaps the most heart-breaking outcome was experienced by Nicole Zohorsky of Bayridge, who clipped the second hurdle in the final of the junior girls 80-metre hurdles. Zohorsky, who had the best qualifying time in the heats by about six-tenths of a second, kept her balance but came almost to a full stop before regaining her composure and taking off anew. Despite the mishap, still finished the race fifth, in 13.36 seconds, just 12 one-hundredths of a second shy of earning the right to advance.

It was the second year in a row that Zohorsky suffered misfortune in the sprint hurdles. She took the third fastest qualifying time into the final at OFSAA last year but she fell over the fifth hurdle, crashed out of her lane and was disqualified. She will, however, compete at Mississauga in the intermediate hurdles, where she finished third Thursday in 48.33 seconds, a season-best time by almost three seconds.

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