By Maureen Lisle, Special to the Advance-Times
At the OFSAA track and field championships, Saturday, June 9, where mere millimetres and tiny thousandths of a second separate athletes, Madill athletes took their place among the best in the province. It is a long journey of hotly competitive meets to win the honour of competing at OFSAA. All seven athletes who qualified from Madill placed in the top half of the 24 competitors in their events.
When the starter’s gun went off for the open girls 1500m steeplechase, Julie-Anne Staehli took an early lead. One of her strengths is her ability to hurdle the barriers, particularly the water jump. With each lap of the race she continued in the lead, fighting off runners who made a move to pass her. It was an amazing run for Staehli, who shaved a remarkable 11 seconds off her own school record in her gold medal finish. Her time of 4:57.87 was the second fastest steeplechase time ever recorded by a girl at OFSAA. This marks the final season for Staehli, who heads off to Queen’s University this fall where she plans to run with the varsity cross-country team.
In the junior boys sprints, Alex Peters came up against a fast field of runners. In a blanket finish of the 100m, a race decided by one hundredths of a second, he earned sixth in the final. His time of 11.1 seconds was the fastest electronic time recorded for a junior boy at Madill. Peters sets the bar high for himself, and wanted to do better in the 200m, usually his stronger event of the two sprints. When the gun fired, he was ready, and ran the race in 22.50 seconds to win second place, and an OFSAA silver medal. An all-around athlete, this is likely Peter’s final race for the Madill team. He has been drafted by the OHL Plymouth Whalers, and is off to Michigan next year.
Madeline Yungblut, in her final high school race, continued her onslaught on the record book. In the senior girls 3000m event, all 24 athletes ran in the final race. Yungblut ran strongly and consistently with each lap, to win fifth place in the province and better her previous time by five seconds. She has shaved an extraordinary 45 seconds off the 1980 school record this season. Yungblut heads to University of Guelph this fall and plans to continue running for the university.
Luke Dailleboust, in his first senior year was up against a strong field of sprint hurdlers. He got off to a good start in the 110m hurdle race, but hit a hurdle down the stretch and came up short in making the final. Dailleboust has enjoyed a very strong season for a first year senior, lowering the sprint hurdle record and anchoring the record breaking senior boys 4 X 100m relay team that got to the finals at OFSAA.
Grade 9 students often have problems coping with the hype around OFSAA. Justin McKague handled the situation well in midget boys high jump. He was focused and jumped well, clearing the bar at 1.70m, narrowly missing 1.75, which would have been a personal best for him. Mckague may have strong genetics on his side. His father, Steve McKague, who is presently the high jump coach at Madill, holds the midget boys high jump record of 1.86m set in 1985.
At OFSAA, winning and losing is often decided by fractions of a second. The senior boys 4 X 100m relay team made it through the heats on the first day to proceed to the final. The team knew it was an all out race. They narrowly missed passing inside their zone in one of the exchanges, and were disqualified after the race despite a fourth place finish. Nothing can take away from the fact that this team of Brayden Pellett, Mike Ballagh, Peters and Dailleboust is the fastest team ever to run a 4 X 100m relay at Madill. Their time of 42.83 seconds set at OFSAA Regionals will be in the record book for a long time. They are among the fastest in the province, and have consistently brought many honours to Madill.
OFSAA marks the official end to the high school track and field season. The season has been a strong one for Madill. The team won several Huron Perth titles, including the overall, the WOSSAA girls and senior girls title, as well as several top placings at OFSAA. Some of the athletes will compete in the district C Legion Meet held in Guelph next weekend.