By Larry Moko
As soon as coach Ruth St. Pierre finished video-taping the senior boys’ 4x100-metre relay final at the OFSAA track and field championships, she held her breath.
That’s because when she glanced over at York University Stadium’s electronic scoreboard, it indicated her St. Thomas More Knights and the East Northumberland team had both finished with a winning time of 42.48 seconds.
Eventually, it was determined that More got the gold medal.
“I saw it was very close,” St. Pierre said. “I thought, ‘oh my God, we’ve got to have won because this is what we’ve been working on for four years.
“We won silver (at OFSAA in 2016) and other medals, but I’m ecstatic that it’s finally gold.”
The More foursome was comprised of Ike Usifo, Vincent Irobun, Liam Ford, Marqus Rookwood. A hamstring injury to Usifo at the South Regional qualifier last week, however, almost stalled More’s drive for an OFSAA first-place relay finish. Usifo pulled out of South Regionals and was replaced by Josh Bowen.
Said St. Pierre: “We’re very fortunate to have great senior boys runners. Josh Bowen was key for this team. He stepped in and got us from South Regionals into OFSAA. And he ran the heat here at OFSAA that got us into the final.
“Ike said he was good to go, so we made the decision to let him run in the final because he’s been a big part of the team for four years and is moving on, graduating. It was a tough decision because without Josh we wouldn’t be anywhere.”
Usifo also pulled out of the 200 metres at South Regionals due to the leg injury.
“I was going to physio therapy every day to get ready for OFSAA,” Usifo said. “I told them I wanted to run the finals.”
Said Ford: “We won by a hundredth of a second. I’m so happy for myself and my team.”
Irobun predicted that More would have a good shot in the 4x1 after his impressive silver-medal finish in the 100m dash a few hours earlier. His time was 10.89 seconds.
“Outstanding,” St. Pierre said of Irobun’s performance in moving up from fifth to ultimately second in the race. “It’s been great to see Vincent improve and get stronger over the years. In Grade 9, he was the slowest of the four.”
Irobun achieved a personal best time of 10.88 in the 100m semifinals. “My goal was top three,” Irobun said. “Last year I came fourth.”
Another speedster on the track for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association was Nifaiya Robinson of the Cathedral Gaels, who finished second in the junior boys’ 400m (48.21).
“I think I ran a good race,” Robinson said. “I just have to work on my stamina and kick at the end.”
Robinson is looking forward to the 200m Saturday. “That’s my favourite,” he said. “It’s my specialty.”
A member of the Hamilton Olympic Club, Robinson is looking for another strong showing at nationals and hopes to make standards for the Jamaica vs. Canada meet this summer.
Continuing his impressive first year at Cardinal Newman with the Cardinals, Mark Skerl blazed to victory in the midget boys’ 100m hurdles (13.72). He also picked up a silver – despite fouls on five of his six attempts – in the long jump (6.27m).
In the junior girls’ 4x100m relay, the St. Mary Crusaders – Isabella Bauman, Olivia Stock, Rachel Watson and Taryn Millar – raced to bronze with a clocking of 49.87.
Stock also captured a silver medal in the midget girls’ 80m hurdles.
Jaden Mullings of the Bishop Tonnos Titans, who won the midget girls’ long jump the day before, came fourth in the high jump (1.55m).
In the men’s 100m for visually impaired, Tiago Brum of Tonnos came second in 13.96. “It was fun … exciting,” said Brum, a Grade 10 student, who received his medal from Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse.
Due to retinis pigmentosa, Brum says he can’t really see through his right eye and his left eye is a little weak, too.
“I can’t see things in front of me,” Brum said. “I ran through some hurdles at practice and tripped over a few of those things in lane one. I just like meeting others, having a good time and trying to improve my time.”
A junior girls’ discus final saw Logan Garvey of the Brebeuf Braves and Mackenzie Maludzinski of the Bishop Ryan Celtics place 16th and 18th respectively. Their throws were 25.81 and 24.08.
Madison Shakeshaft of Brebeuf was 24th and did not qualify for the finals in the senior girls’ 100m hurdles. St. Mary’s open 4x400m women’s relay team was 15th and also failed to advance.
Tristan Malkowski of Bishop Ryan was 24th in junior boys’ long jump (5.22).
The three-day provincial meet featuring 2,400 athletes from over 500 schools wraps up Saturday.