June Highlights

As the school year comes to a close, so too do did the athletic season for a number of high school student athletes across the country. Take a look at the last of the high school sports action for the 2010-2011 school year.

Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) Track and Field Provincials

On June 3-4, the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association’s North Region played host to the 2011 ASAA Track and Field Provincials, bringing over 1,077 athletes to Foote Field in Edmonton to compete.

“I felt that the meet was very successful,” said Tim Schultz, Tournament Director. “It is our largest provincial championship. About 216 high schools across the province participated in the two-day event. We also had a lot of spectators considering the rainy cold weather.”

The meet brought together the best in the province, with the athletes fighting to prove their worth, show off their hard work and gain provincial experience. “For some it is their last high school competition, for some they are looking for their personal best, some are using this as a spring board for athletic scholarships to post secondary institutes or national team tryouts. While some just see it as a chance to rekindle friendships that they have developed over the years of competition in high school sport,” says Schultz.

The two-day meet featured exciting action as each athlete competed not only for themselves, but for their school as well. In the 1A Division, Glendon School clinched first place overall in convincing fashion by almost doubling the total point total of the second place team. Sundre High School took home the 2A Division title in similar fashion by finishing with more than twice as many points as the second place team. The 3A Division saw a bit more competition at the top, as Cochrane High School narrowly edge Cold Lake High School for the banner. Finally, the 4A Division provided the most dramatic results during the 2-day meet as Strathcona Composite High School from Edmonton and Medicine Hat High School battled with each other to the very end. After the dust settled, Strathcona emerged victorious with a total team score of 423.50 points, agonizingly close to Medicine Hat’s score of 422.75. While it must sting the Medicine Hat athletes to have been so close to winning it all, they should certainly be proud of their accomplishment and use this year’s championships as motivation for next year.

The athletes also proved to be getting stronger and faster, with students breaking seven records in this year’s provincials, in comparison to three records that were broken last year.

Niki Oudenaarden competing in long jump (courtesy Chris Colbourne, St. Albert Gazette)

Every athlete who competed in Provincials deserves recognition for their hard work and determination leading up to the big day, however one athlete in particular that stood out from the rest was Niki Oudenaarden of the Paul Kane Blues from St. Albert. During last year’s Provincials, Oudenaarden put on a dominant performance as she claimed gold in long jump (in which she also set a new provincial record), javelin and shot put as well as silver in the 200m race. While it would be extremely difficult to follow up that performance during this year’s Provincials, Oudenaarden did just that. By the time Provincials were over, Oudenaarden had broken the provincial javelin record en route to winning the gold while also finishing first in high jump and long jump. Oudenaarden made it to the podium in the 200m race again, finishing in third.

Even though the high school season is over, there is still plenty of action ahead for Oudenaarden, as she will be preparing for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Youth Championships in Lille, France from July 6 to 10. After such an impressive 2011 season, the sky is certainly the limit for Oudenaarden as she enters her final year of high school in 2012!

New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association (NBIAA) Track and Field Provincials

On June 4, the NBIAA Track and Field Provincials took place at the Canada Games Stadium in Saint John and proved to be one of the most exciting meets this year, bringing together over 42 schools.

The battle for the overall AAA team championship was intense as athletes from Fredericton HS and Saint John HS went head to head. In the end, it was Fredericton that came out on top, narrowly edging Saint John with a point total of 327 to 318. The competition for the AA team championship was equally as close, as Boner Law Memorial School came in first with 117 points, just ahead of J.M. Armstrong HS, who ended up with 112 points.

Three athletes in particular enjoyed exceptional days as they established new provincial records. Ryan Cassidy from Louis J. Robichaud HS shattered the senior boys’ 3000m record by almost 10 seconds with a time of 8:34.30. Amy Lynn-Grant from Nepisiguit HS set the new junior girls’ 400m record of 58.67, beating Grace Annear’s record that she had just set in 2009. Lynn-Grant was extremely close to taking home two more gold medals, but she came up just short, finishing second in both the junior girls’ 100m and 200m. While Annear may have momentarily lost one provincial record, she went right ahead and set a new one in the senior girls’ 400m, finishing in 58.16 to break the old record of 58.59 that had stood for 10 years. Annear’s golden day wasn’t complete just yet, as she followed up the 400m victory with another in the senior girls’ 800m.

While he may not have broken any records, Nic MacMackin had arguably the most outstanding day out of all athletes as the lone triple gold medal winner. After winning gold in the junior boys’ 400m, 800m and 1500m races in 2010, it a was going to be tough to follow up that performance in 2011 but MacMackin did just that and amazingly won each event again. The question now is if MacMackin can make it a triple gold three-peat – after such an impressive performance, it would certainly be hard to bet against him.

Another athlete who enjoyed a great day on the track was Kylie Paulson from Fredericton HS, as she definitively claimed the title of ‘fastest junior girl’ by winning both the junior girls’ 100m and 200m races.

The fight for the team championship between Fredericton HS and Saint John HS was embodied in the senior boys’ 100m and 200m races as Jeff Retallick from FHS went head to head with Alex Peobody from SJHS. Retallick claimed the 200m title by finishing in 24.10, ahead of Peobody’s time of 24.50. In the 100m final, Peobody got his revenge and took home the gold by finishing just 0.01 seconds ahead of Retallick with a time of 11.93.

Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) Softball Championships

This year’s NSSAF Division 1 Girls’ Slo-Pitch Championships were hosted by Memorial High School on June 3-4 and featured some high-scoring play and some very exciting matchups.

The South Colchester Academy (SCA) Wolves entered the tournament as the prohibitive favourites after taking home the championship title the past two seasons. The Memorial Highlanders came into the tournament with momentum and a home crowd on their side, however and were determined to prevent the Wolves from accomplishing the rare three-peat.

The Wolves and Highlanders both breezed by their competition in the first two games before meeting each other in the final game of round robin play. It was a close game, but the Wolves demonstrated their offensive power and took the game 13-7 to finish a perfect 3-0 in round robin play.

The Highlanders outlasted Northeast Kings Education Centre in the first semi-final thanks in part to the support of the home crowd and came out on top 13-9. In the other semi-final, the Wolves faced off against CP Allen and won handily with a final score of 14-4 to set up a rematch for all the marbles with the Highlanders.

SCA Wolves: 2011 NSSAF Division 1 Girls’ Slo-Pitch Champions

In the Championship game, the Wolves showed why they are the two-time defending champions as they exploded for 21 hits en route to a 16-6 victory. Kaleigh Queripel led the way as she belted a 3-run home run and was just a triple away from hitting for the cycle. Kelsi Barr also had a great game, as she contributed four singles in the win. With the win, it appears as though the Wolves could have the makings of a long dynasty for many years to come.

OFSAA Lacrosse Festival

The AAA/AAAA OFSAA Lacrosse Festival was hosted by St. Matthew Catholic High School on June 2-3, as more than 320 students traveled to Ottawa to compete for the championship.

The Paul Dwyer Catholic HS Saints from Oshawa entered the tournament as the #1 seed in the province, ending the regular season with 18 wins and only one loss. In pool play, Paul Dwyer easily beat Upper Canada College and Bracebridge/Muskoka Lakes winning both games 12-2. The Saints kept their momentum going against Welland’s Notre Dame in the semi-finals, and hung on for a 7-4 victory, giving them their second straight birth in the Championship finals.

In a rematch of last year’s Championship, the #2 seed St. Michael’s Varsity Blue Gaels were the only thing that stood between the Saints and the provincial title. While the Gaels came away with the title in 2010, the Saints had already beaten the Gaels once in a tournament earlier this year, so the psychological advantage had to go to them.

St. Michael’s Varsity Blue Gaels: 2011 AAA/AAAA OFSAA Champions

The Gaels quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead, however in an attempt to kill their momentum, Saints coach Michael Drake made a gutsy move and called an illegal stick on the Gael’s goal scorer. The move paid off, as the goal was called back and the Saints were given a 3-minute power play. Adam Kelusky scored for the Saints to even up the game, but in another surprising move, Gael’s coach Alex Frescura correctly called an illegal stick on Kelusky. That call was the turning point in the game, as the tying goal was called back and the Gaels capitalized on the power play, scoring three times to build a 4-0 lead.

That power play sucked the life out of the Saints, as they just, “couldn’t seem to respond,” commented tournament Convenor Al Smith. “St. Mike’s defense played really well. They just seemed to have more depth and conditioning than Dwyer throughout the game. And they definitely had the talent and the drive.”

The Saints never gave up and made the game interesting, however in the end, the early lead proved to be too much for them to overcome, as the Gaels claimed their second straight Championship with a 12-7 victory. After two highly entertaining championships between two elite teams, lacrosse fans in Ontario can only hope for another exciting chapter to be written in this budding rivalry in 2012.

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