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Kingston-area athletes finish OFSAA track and field meet with 11 medals

June 8, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

MISSISSAUGA — Jackie Quesnel could have shared her wish for her first provincial high school track and field championship — but she didn’t.

“I wanted to get a medal,” she confided, but she was intent on keeping that bit of ambitious thinking to herself.

“I don’t know what others were expecting of me,” Quesnel explained. “I didn’t want to let anyone down.”

She needn’t have worried.

On a hot, sunny day Saturday Quesnel emerged from a pack of trailing runners to claim the bronze medal in midget girls 800 metres at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations track and field championships.

It was one of four medals won by Kingston-area athletes Saturday, bringing to 11 the number won by local competitors at the three-day meet.

It was a splendid weekend for Quesnel, who posted four personal-best times, in the heats and again in the final of both the 1,500 and 800 metres. She was fifth Friday in the 1,500.

“I was really nervous, it being my first OFSAA and all,” she said after Saturday’s race, but she drew comfort from believing the heat times of the other finalists suggested a personal-best performance would give her a good chance to win a medal.

“I felt pretty good (during the race),” she said, “and when I got to the end I saw that there was only two people ahead of me so I went for it. It was awesome.”

Quesnel drew Lane 1 for the race and she knew that if she wasn’t careful, she’d be stuck in a traffic jam at the first bend as people from the other lanes clamoured to get close to the rail.

“I was a little worried about that,” she said, “but I went a little bit harder at the beginning, so that I was not stuck in a crowd.”

Two runners broke into the lead at that point, and Quesnel found herself in a group of four for most of the rest of the race. With 200 metres to go, they all picked up their pace. “At 100 (metres to go) they didn’t seem to have a lot left,” she said. “I did.”

In finishing in 2 minutes 18.16 seconds, Quesnel withstood a furious challenge at the end of the race from three other girls with designs on a medal, including Keili Shepherd of Ottawa Glebe, who she out-duelled for second place in the regional final one week earlier.

In one of the closest contests for a medal at the meet, the four runners who finished third through sixth were separated by just 75 one-hundredths of a second.

The other medalists from Kingston-area schools who took home a medal Saturday are:

• Trista McKee-Arlidge of Prince Edward in Picton, who took 41 seconds off her personal best to claim silver in blind girls 800 metres;

• Queen Elizabeth midget high jumper Anthony Donnet, who gave his school its first OFSAA medal in at least 42 years, a bronze.

• Junior Cameron Linscott of KC, who for the second year in a row won a bronze medal in the 3,000 metres.

The final tally of 11 medals comprised one gold, Friday by La Salle’s Heather Jaros in senior girls 1,500 metres, four silver and six bronze. The 70 Kingston-area competitors had 26 top-eight performances, 15 personal bests and 12 season-best times or distances.

The 11 medals is the same total as local athletes collected a year ago. Only four times since 1971 has the local contingent been more productive, in the remarkable run of 1998-2001, when the Kingston-area gang produced 13, 14, 12 and 13 medals in successive years.

Linscott’s medal came despite his having to crumple up his game plan and figuratively throw it in the trash after one lap of his seven-and-a-half lap race. Under a blazing sun the runners went out in an astonishingly slow fashion.

Linscott was familiar with opponent Riley Tell of Fr. Leo A. Austin in Whitby from having been beaten by him both in the midget 3,000 metres in 2013 and here Friday in the final of the 1,500 metres.

“I knew he had the speed and we were out in 72.74 (seconds for the first 400 metres). I knew I had to take over, even though it was hot and windy, because if we kept on doing that he would just take me down (at the end).”

Without comparable speed, Linscott figured he’d need to rely on his endurance to prevail. He knew he’d have to take the pace at some point. “The plan originally, with five laps to go, maybe two and a half laps to go, depending on how the pace went, was to define the race with a solid move, but you can’t come into a race knowing you’re only going to do one thing. You’ve got to keep going for whatever happens.”

So Linscott, who began the race hear the front, took the lead with 2,500 metres to go and held it for much of the race, which evolved into a three man contest with Linscott, Fell and Quinn Cannella of Chatham-Kent. With about 600 metres to go Fell made a move, but Linscott responded. Not much later, Tell made another bid for the lead.

“He did the same little move at 300 (as he did) last year,” Linscott said. “I managed to stick with him, whereas last year he sort of blew by me.”

With about 100 metres to go Cannella also passed Linscott, who initially appeared to have no reply. He began to close with about 60 metres to go, however, but couldn’t regain second place.

He finished in 8 minutes 56.25 seconds, 28 one-hundredths of a second behind Cannella and less than a second behind Tell.

Linscott said the mid-afternoon heat Saturday dictated the way the race was run.

“Every one of us came in knowing we had to do certain things to beat each other,” he said. “Last year I was racing not to lose, but today I really went out and raced to try to win it. I tried my hardest … I’m really happy that I could put everything into that race.”

Especially, he said, after his performance in Friday’s 1,500 metre final, where he finished eighth for the second year in a row.

“It was a great thing to get a medal today after a pretty disappointing performance yesterday,” he said. “I felt I could go a lot faster. I ran last week at 4:09 and it felt smooth and pretty easy and then I ran 4:10 yesterday and I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t PB.

“I’m pretty satisfied. Today’s performance is a good way to close out the season. I expected to medal today. I wanted a silver but a bronze is great. I know my fitness is there to go, on a really nice day, 8:40, but obviously not every day is a great day. You’ve got to be ready to race to win no matter the conditions.”

Next year’s OFSAA meet will be held at the Varsity Centre at University of Toronto.

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