Local runners excel at national track and field
While Melissa Bishop captured much of the attention, other athletes from the Upper Ottawa Valley had an impressive showing at the recent Canadian Track and Field Championships in Ottawa.
The world silver medallist from Eganville captured her fourth national title in the 800-metre at the championships held in early July at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Bishop, who came in with a time of two minutes 0.26 seconds, three-plus seconds ahead of silver medallist Jenna Westaway, of Calgary, will be competing in the track and field world championships in London this weekend.
Joining Bishop in the 800-metre was Pembroke's Madeleine Kelly, who finished sixth with a time of 2:06. Kelly, who was a four-time provincial champion when she attended Fellowes High School, is now ranked 15th in Canada for the 800-metre. Melissa Jones, also from Pembroke, ran in the senior women's 1500-metre and finished 10th with a time of 4:22. Jones, a three-time provincial champion with Fellowes, is ranked 21st in the country for the 1500-metre.
“All these results are more awe inspiring by the fact that we do not have a functional track and field facility in the Ottawa Valley,” said Rick Schroeder, one of convenors heading up this fall's Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) cross country championships in Petawawa. “This is like helping develop a Sydney Crosby and some of the best Junior 'A' players in hockey with no functioning hockey rinks.”
There were other future track stars who excelled at the nationals. Jonathan Stoppa, who attends Madawaska Valley District High School in Barry's Bay, initially led the Under-20 five kilometre race for over 2.5 kilometres. He ultimately record a 10th place finish. Thomas Csisztu, from Jeanne-Lajoie, finished 12th both running 15:40 and 15:48. Stoppa and Csisztu are ranked in the top 20 in Canada.
“I didn't have the best race but it was a good experience,” said Stoppa. “I would have liked it if it was a more even paced race.”
Nick Bauernschmitt, who attends Valour High School, finished 23rd in the Under-20 800-metre and is now ranked top 30 in the country. Pembroke's Sophie Warren, who also attends Valour, and Eily Rauliuk-Dunn, from Mackenzie Community School, competed as under-aged athletes in the Under-20 800-metre running against older athletes. Warren finished 15th. Both are ranked top 30 in the country for their age group. Molly Steer, also from Mackenzie, ran in the senior girls 5,000-metre and finished 20th. For Warren, the best part of the competition was seeing Andre De Grasse, the triple medallist from last summer's Rio Olympics.
“It had a great atmosphere but it was stressful,” said Warren. “We ran after Andre De Grasse which was cool.”
“It was definitely a different race with all those people watching and running with the pros,” added Rauliuk-Dunn, who was still nursing a stress fracture in her foot. “Sophie and I were warming up and we looked over and there was Melissa Bishop. It was super cool.”