The knowledge and insight gained from competing in a provincial championship is invaluable for any athlete. And for the seven members of the Muskie track-and-field team that were able to compete at the OFSAA championships this year, that experience could prove vital as they move forward in their athletic careers.
Despite not making the finals in any of their events, the Muskies competed hard and represented northwestern Ontario with pride at the all-Ontarios held last Thursday through Saturday at the University of Guelph.
“OFSAA is a three-day event which showcases the best high school athletes in the province and our team members could not help but be inspired by being a small part of that,” said Muskie coach John Dutton.
"We witnessed countless amazing performances in all disciplines and even saw a number of OFSAA and Canadian high school records broken.
“Our athletes gained tips and insights from other competitors and coaches and left Guelph on Saturday night with a new determination to return next year as faster, stronger, and more experienced competitors,” he enthused.
Emma Bone competed in the most events for the Muskies at OFSAA last week.
She suited up in three throwing events in the Midget girls' division, nabbing 23rd spot in shot put (7.32m), finishing 24th in javelin (16.49m), and placing 23rd in discus with a personal best throw of 15.44m.
Alacea Yerxa, meanwhile, finished 24th in the senior girls' 1500m race prelims (6:48.37) while Kenna Spuzak did the same in the junior race (6:49.72) as both failed to advance to the finals.
Yerxa then wound up 24th in the senior girls' 800m prelims, clocking in with a time of 3:08.10 to fail to advance to the finals.
The Muskie girls' open division 4x400m relay squad of Spuzak, Ayiana Gagne, Grace Petsnick, and Cassie Krawchuk placed 24th in the prelims (4:47.70).
Sean Huziak—the lone male Muskie to qualify for OFSAA—wound up 23rd in the senior discus with a best throw of 31.41m.
“Our athletes performed well at OFSAA. We had a number of season and personal best performances in throwing and running events,” Dutton lauded.
"I know that all of our athletes gave their best efforts in their various events but there were, nonetheless, some that were disappointed with their results.
“We, as a team and as a region, are well aware of the level of competition that we face from southern Ontario athletes when we qualify to represent NWOSSAA at [the] OFSAA track-and-field championships, and yet it can still feel frustrating when our best efforts often leave us near the bottom of the pack in final results,” he conceded.
“Unlike many other high school championships in Ontario, OFSAA track-and-field does not differentiate between 'A', 'AA', or even 'AAAA' schools,” Dutton noted.
“There is one OFSAA track meet for all schools from all corners of the province. Our athletes were shining representatives of the northwest and as a coach, I could not be more proud of our team,” he enthused.
A big takeaway that Dutton said his athletes have from OFSAA this year is the realization that much of the competition they face has the opportunity to train and compete in their various events year-round, through club teams and at indoor meets during the winter season.
“Many of our athletes are looking forward to training through the off-season, attending camps, or participating in running programs over the summers,” he revealed.
“For some, cross-country training starts now in preparation for the fall season, knowing that our competition is doing the same.”
Looking ahead to next year's Muskie track squad, Dutton noted that the team will only be losing one senior member to graduation with the remainder returning for their Grade 12 year.
“Hopefully, we can count on our current Midget team returning to compete as juniors next season, and we already know that we have some very strong athletes who trained with us this season that will be coming into Grade 9 at Fort High next year,” he remarked.
“It's been a great season for us, [I'm] looking forward to a little break," he noted. "But I am excited about next year already.”