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Track & Field
Les Rebelles de Louis-Riel have banner day at East Region track meet
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Louis-Riel's Stephanie Lalonde pulls her way over the bar on her way to setting a new meet record in the midget girls pole vault at the OFSAA East Regional meet in Brockville on Friday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The weather was picture perfect at the Thousand Islands Secondary School track and field facility in Brockville on Friday, and so was the Louis-Riel Rebelles track team which racked up a slew of top four performances at the OFSAA East Regional meet.

The Rebelles were led by a pair of gymnasts competing in track for the first time; two converted soccer players who are the best of friends; and a senior who carried the men's 4x400 relay team on his back and across the finish line.

Annabelle Gagné and Stephanie Lalonde both train and compete at the Les Sitteles gymnastic club. When their coach found out the two Grade 9 students were gymnasts, he suggested they try their hands at pole vaulting.

With just three weeks of training under their belts, they competed at last week's National Capital high school championships with vastly different results. Gagné won the event with a leap of 2.25 metres, while Lalonde captured the last qualifying spot with fifth place jump of 1.95 metres.

Skip ahead a week, and the results were vastly different as in vastly improved. Gagné and Lalonde were locked in a battle for the top three spots with Holly Pennings from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Russell.

When the dust had settled, Lalonde not only won the event, but she set a new meet record with a leap of 2.46 metres, more than half a metre over her previous personal best.

"Last week I didn't know how to bend the poll and now with another week of practice I actually know how to bend the poll and properly jump." said Lalonde.

Louis-Riel's Japhet Divita was a double event winner in the midget boys long jump and triple jump in Brockville. He also qualified for the OFSAA provincial championhips in the 100-metres. File photo

Prior to competing in the pole vault, Gagné won the midget girls long jump and finished third in the 100-metre sprint. With three berths to next week's provincial championships already in her pocket, she ended her day by helping the midget girls 4x100 relay team to a first place finish.

"I'm really appy about how things turned out. I got a PB (personal best) in the long jump and the 100 too," said Gagné.

Best friends Jonathan Rioux and Japhet Divita had a banner day as well. The two young men enrolled in Louis-Riel's sporte d'etudes program with the intention of playing soccer.

That all changed when Rioux won the NCSSAA midget boys cross country championship last fall. His success convinced him to switch his focus to track. When Divita heard that his best friend was switching to track he decided to switch too. It turned out to be a wise decision.

On Friday, Divita followed up his first place performances at last week's city championships in the long jump and triple jump, with a pair of wins at Regionals. He also finished fourth in the 100-metre sprint between jumps to qualify for the provincial championships in three different events.

Rioux also followed up on his first place performances in the 1500 and 3000 metres at last week's city championships, with a pair of convincing wins in Brockville, establishing new personal bests over both distances. But it was his win in the 3000 metres, in the heat of the day, that was especially rewarding -- and difficult.

"It was about the third lap that I really started to feel the heat, but I stayed focused and I knew I wanted to go to OFSAA, so I pushed as hard as I could," said Rioux. The result was a 9:27.03, three seconds better than his previous PB.

The third key player in Louis-Riel's successful trip to "The City of 1000 Islands" was Luckenson Adeya. The Grade 11 student qualified for OFSAA with a second place finish in the senior boys 800 metres on Thursday, but fell short in the 2000-metre steeplechase and the 400-metres on Friday.

As it turns out, he was saving his best for last. With his team mirred in sixth place after the first two legs of the 4x400 relay, he took the baton from teammate Vincent Moricz and started to reel in the competition one runner at a time. By the time he handed the stick off to anchor man Bedi Ndinsil he was on the heels of the Thousand Islands Secondary School runner.

Ndinsil soon passed his opposite number and brought the race home in a time of 3:29.92. The other two members of the team were Joel Roy-Couvillon, who along with Ndinsil, Jabril Jama and Pierre-André K-Mawka, came in second in the 4x100 relay, and Vincent Moricz, who was nursing a foot injury that forced him out ot the 800.

The fourth Louis-Riel member who qualified for OFSAA in an individual event was Felix Robillard, who place fourth in the steeplechase.

In total, the Rebelles qualified in 14 different events. By far the most among east end schools. Colonel By had five athletes qualify in six events, and Cairine Wilson had two athletes qualify in three events. Gloucester, Béatrice-Desloges, St. Matthew, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Gisele-Lalonde and Samuel Genest qualified one athlete each.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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