HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: Fifth-year student-athlete Sydney Smith is ending her University of Ottawa Gee-Gees indoor track and field career in a blaze of glory – fast times, many rewards.
And after becoming the first Gee-Gees woman to win an individual gold medal in six years at the Ontario University Athletics championships, Smith can sign off on her slow-building, but determined university career by competing in her first Canadian university championships, beginning on March 31 in St. John, NB.
The 1997-born Smith didn’t qualify for the OUA championships in her first two years as she was running 600-metre times of 1:41 to 1:42. She improved her effort to 1:37.25 in 2018-19, but only qualified for the OUAs in the 400 metres. At the 2019-20 provincial championships, she was 11th over 600 metres in 1:36.18.
But in her final OUA championships in Toronto, Smith established herself as the favourite at the national championships, when she won the women’s 600 metres in 1:30.37, which was her fourth personal-best time of the season. She defeated Guelph’s Sadie-Jane Hickson by 0.18 seconds for the victory. The Gee-Gees’ Hannah Frazer was seventh in 1:37.13.
Smith’s performance not only qualified her for the U Sports nationals, but also gave the Gee-Gee program its first gold medal by a woman since Devyani Biswal placed first in the 60-metre hurdles in 2016. The university’s last OUA gold medallist was Stephen Evans in the men’s 600 and 1,000 metres.
Owning the fastest women’s 600-metre time this season at 1:29.38, which was converted from 1:30.47 because races have been run on a variety of oversized, undersized and banked tracks, the biochemistry student and three-time U Sports Academic All-Canadian is positioned No. 1 on the national university ranking table.
Smith, who contributed to the Gee-Gees winning the bronze medal in the women’s 4×800-metre relay at the 2020 OUA championships, almost had a second career provincial relay medal in the 4×400-metre relay. The Colonel By Secondary School grad anchored Doyin Ogunremi, Frazer and Frederique Bell to fourth place in 3:51.66, which left them 0.48 seconds shy of the bronze medal and put them fifth in the national rankings.
Meanwhile, freshman Thomas Senechal-Becker won the Gee-Gees’ other medal at the OUA championships, capturing the silver in the men’s high jump with a leap of 2.02 metres. He is ranked No. 3 by U Sports, after he cleared 2.05 metres at the Windsor Team Challenge.
The Gee-Gees finished seventh in both the women’s and men’s team standings.
Here are the Gee-Gees’ other top-eight finishers, who also scored team points:
· Emma Martins, women’s 60 metres, fifth, 7.77 seconds;
· Jackson Colquham, men’s triple jump, sixth, 13.11 metres;
· Zacharie Leger, Fabrice Nonez, Dillon Landon and David Moulongou, men’s 4×200-metre relay, sixth, 1:32.52;
· Brianna Asiamah, women’s shot put, seventh, 12.45 metres;
· Martins, Ogunremi, Sia Mahajan and Kelly Brennan, women’s 4×200-metre relay, seventh, 1:47.04;
· Leger, Andre Alie-Lamarche, Nonez and Moulongou, men’s 4×400-metre relay, seventh, 3:29.45;
· Ogunremi, women’s 300 metres, eighth, 41.23;
· Alie-Lamarche, men’s 1,500 metres, eighth, 3:57.22;
· Elizabeth Moreland, women’s high jump, eighth, 1.55 metres;
· Stephanie Leask, Kylee Fowler, Brooklyn McCormick and Skye Pellerin, women’s 4×800-metre relay, eighth, 10:01.34.
DOUBLE GOLD FOR WEST OTTAWA AT ONTARIO A RINGETTE CHAMPIONSHIPS
West Ottawa collected a pair of gold medals, while Gloucester-Cumberland and Metcalfe picked up bronze medals at the Ontario A ringette championships, which were staged at five different arenas across Ottawa.
After tying for first place in the girls’ U16A division with Forest at 5-0, West Ottawa went on to defeat the only other undefeated team 4-2 in the final. Libby Clow, Ella Fracker, Taelyn Lecuyer and Tara McGaraughty scored the goals for West Ottawa.
In the bronze-medal match, Gloucester-Cumberland defeated Metcalfe 6-2 as Riley Dallaire and Danica Gagne had two goals apiece for the winners and Meika Dearing and Leine Biro added one each. Kendra Byrne and Teagan Roy replied for Metcalfe. Byrne was tied for second in the provincial championship scoring race with 12 goals and six assists for 18 points. Gagne shared fourth place at seven goals and nine assists for 16 points.
After posting a 5-0 round-robin record, West Ottawa edged Dorchester 3-2 in the girls’ U14A Black division gold-medal game. Zoe Landry paced West Ottawa with two goals and Lucy Fisher added one. Landry had 12 goals and four assists for 16 points in the championship.
Keona Doombos counted two goals, while singles went to Ellen Evans, Jordan Vandenberg and Kate Clement as Metcalfe defeated Sault Ste. Marie 5-1 in the girls’ U19A bronze-medal game. West Ottawa, which finished in a four-way tie for second place along with Metcalfe at 4-1, missed the playoffs, when it lost a mini game to Dorchester 2-1. Erika Langner had the West Ottawa goal.
SPRINTER LAUREN GALE CONTINUES CANADIAN RECORD SETTING WAYS AT WORLDS
For the fourth time this indoor track and field season, Ottawa sprinter Lauren Gale had a record-breaking performance.
After setting three Canadian women’s indoor records in the 200 and 400 metres during NCAA competitions, Gale put her name beside the 4×400-metre relay standard at the world indoor track and field championships in Belgrade.
Gale, who attends Colorado State University, Kyra Constantine, Natassha McDonald and Sage Watson finished fourth in their heat, but their national record time of three minutes, 31.45 seconds left them eighth overall and out of the final, which was restricted to the six fastest teams.
The national team destroyed the 4×400-metre relay record by more than 4.5 seconds. The 22-year-old record was held by Karlene Haughton, Foy Williams, Candace Jones and Naabiama Salifu, who ran 3:36.09.
MERISSAH RUSSELL SEES ACTION IN OPENING NCAA TOURNAMENT WIN FOR LOUISVILLE
The University of Louisville Cardinals will play in Saturday’s round of 16 during the NCAA women’s division 1 basketball championship tournament, after defeating Albany 83-51 and Gonzaga 68-59.
Sophomore guard Merissah Russell of Ottawa played five minutes in the opening game against Albany and contributed three points. She didn’t see any floor time in the game against Gonzaga. The Cardinals are one of four No. 1 seeds.
LILY YOVETICH HELPS TAKE NORTHEASTERN TO NCAA WOMEN’S HOCKEY FINAL FOUR
Defenceman Lily Yovetich of Ottawa reached the NCAA Division 1 women’s Final Four hockey tournament with Northeastern University, which dropped a 2-1 decision in double overtime to Minnesota Duluth in the semifinals.
Yovetich, who counted three assists, had 22 shots on goal and blocked 14 shots for Northeastern this season, formerly played for the Ottawa Lady Senators. She was team captain in her final year in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League and had a career nine goals and 23 assists in 73 games.
While Syracuse lost in the NCAA regional semi-final round, two of their players with Ottawa connections had impressive seasons.
Abby Moloughney of Ottawa finished fourth in scoring in the College Hockey America conference with six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 16 league games. She is a graduate of the Nepean Junior Wildcats.
Teammate Lauren Bellefontaine of Kemptville was 10th on the conference scoring table with four goals and nine assists for 13 points. Bellefontaine also played for the Wildcats.
A third Wildcat alumna, Kristy Pidgeon of Ingleside, Ont., had her best-ever college season in her fifth and final year. After spending four years at Clarkson, she transferred to Mercyhurst, where she scored 11 goals and added 21 assists for 32 points in 34 games.
Pair of local divers quadruple-medallists at diving provincials
Ottawa National Diving Club’s Kathryn Grant and Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club’s Kate Miller led the way for the local contingent as they won four medals apiece at the March 18-20 Ontario Diving Spring Provincials in Scarborough.
Grant’s four medals were all gold. The University of Utah-bound high school senior won the women’s open 3-metre springboard, and swept all the Group A (age 16-17) events – 1 m, 3 m and platform.
Miller finished one spot behind Forest City’s Katelyn Fung in each of her three women’s open competitions – the 1 m (2nd), 3 m (3rd) and platform (2nd) – and then teamed up with Fung to win gold in the 3 m synchro.
Also hitting the podium were NODC’s Rafael Serey Cormier, Oskar Kavanagh, Nika Ashoori and Ella Lindsay, and ONDC’s Emmanuelle Rogerge-Le.
ONDC will host the Ontario Aspire Provincials May 27-29 at Nepean Sportsplex.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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