HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Welcome to the season of Canadian sports championships.
Over the past few days, Ottawa athletes have won national titles in track and field basketball and rowing in Sherbrooke, PQ, Edmonton and St. Catharines, ON, and in ultimate at home.
The Nepean Knights are now just one win away from earning a historic Ontario Junior ‘B’ Lacrosse League championship after stealing a pair of road victories in Windsor.
A handful of the city’s best junior golfers are in Kamloops, B.C., vying for top honours at the Canadian boys’ junior championships and a Royal Ottawa Golf Club member was the first-round leader, after shooting a sizzling, course-tying score.
And it took four years, but a hard-working and persistent group of softball enthusiasts staged a successful Canadian men’s U23 fast pitch championship in Carp, while Manotick hosted the Masters divisions of the Canadian Ultimate Championships.
High Achievers also covered several triumphs for capital paddlers at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Dartmouth, N.S. on the weekend (see below).
Here’s a breakdown on how everything played out or are developing for some of Ottawa and area’s elite athletes:
ONTARIO WINS 3 OF 4 NATIONAL BASKETBALL TITLES
Canada Basketball staged its national boys and girls’ U15 and U17 championships respectively in Edmonton and Sherbrooke, PQ., and Ontario was the dominant province.
Ontario captured three of the four age-group titles – boys’ U15, girls’ U15 and girls’ U17 – and was the runner-up to Quebec in the boys’ U17 final.
Olivier Desjardins of Ottawa Elite shot 72 per cent from the field and averaged 6.8 points over five games as Ontario went undefeated, which was capped by the boys’ U15 90-68 win over British Columbia in the final. When he wasn’t scoring, Desjardins also was a notable rebounder for Ontario.
The Ontario team staff included Ottawa Elite coach Davidson Sanelus, who served as an assistant coach.
Forward Katrina Renon of Ottawa and Louis-Riel Academy and Jessica Wangolo of Ottawa and Ottawa Elite were strong contributors as Ontario easily rolled through its first six games before defeating British Columbia 84-74 in the girls’ U17 championship game.
Renon averaged more than 10 points a game over seven matches, including a game-high 19 in Ontario’s opening 106-45 win over Manitoba. She also was prominent in the rebounds and assists column.
Wangolo, who also was named to Ontario’s U18 team for the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Niagara, made the most of her time with an average of 4.0 points a game plus a favourable amount of rebounds, assists and steals in five of the team’s seven games.
The Ontario boys’ U17 team posted three overall wins, but its only two losses were at the hands of Quebec. After losing its only pool game to Quebec 84-60, Ontario couldn’t reverse the score against its provincial neighbour in the final and lost 92-76 for the silver medal.
Ottawa Elite’s Adriel Nyorha had a breakout game in the final for Ontario, scoring a personal, championship-high 14 points and adding five rebounds and four steals. In the national tournament, he averaged 5.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.6 steals a game.
Forward Binael Basil of Ottawa ranked seventh overall in offensive rebounds in a game (3.0) and blocked shots (1.0). He also averaged 5.6 points and 6.0 rebounds a game. Oliver Faubert of Ottawa had 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game as a forward.
9 MEDALS FOR LIONS AT ROYAL LEGION TRACK NATIONALS
Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club runners, jumpers and hurdlers captured nine medals – two gold, four silver and three bronze – at the Royal Canadian Legion track and field championships for U16 and U18 athletes in Sherbrooke, PQ.
Sprinter Will Batley was connected to both gold-medal efforts and also added a silver to his performance chart.
Batley won the boys’ U16 100 metres in 11.39 seconds and anchored the boys’ 4×100-metre relay team, which included Timeo Atonfo, Mason Brennan and Zach Jeggo, to first place in a Lions age-group record time of 45.26. The Lions won the relay by a mere 0.04 seconds over Quebec.
In his 200-metre final, Batley placed second in 23.60.
Kai Gibson was a double silver-medal winner in the boys’ U16 triple jump (12.60 metres) and high jump (1.79 metres).
Brennan and Atonfo also earned boys’ U16 individual sprint medals. Running into a 3.0-metre headwind, Brennan was second in the 200-metre hurdles in 27.45, while Atonfo was third in the 100-metre hurdles in 14.26.
Atonfo added to his meet memories with a bronze in the boys’ U18 4×400-metre relay. He ran the opening leg and then watched decathlete Eric Zielonka, William Sanders and Nolan Legare post a time of 3:26.35.
Louise Stonham finished third in the girls’ U18 2,000-metre steeplechase in 7:04.19, but was later charged with a lane violation and appeared to lose her result. But Stonham and her coach appealed and won their case to finish with the bronze medal.
NEPEAN KNIGHTS 1 WIN AWAY FROM ONTARIO JR. ‘B’ LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Nepean Knights are on the verge of a historic Ontario Junior ‘B’ Lacrosse League title, with three chances to clinch Ottawa’s first-ever championship on their home floor Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Knights put themselves in that position thanks to road victories over the Windsor Clippers this past weekend to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five championship series.
Regular-season team-leading scorer Jared Downey led the way in the championship series opener with a goal and four assists, while playoff team-leading scorer Nick Pelletier scored two goals and an assist in Nepean’s 6-4 win.
Six different players powered the Knights to a commanding 6-0 lead in Game 2 as they waltzed on to an 11-6 victory. Sam Parent topped the scoresheet with two goals and three assists, while Cameron York tallied two goals and two helpers. Eight major penalties were called in the final 3:30 of the game.
The Knights went 18-2 to post the OJBLL’s best regular season record and then swept each of their first three playoff opponents – Orillia, Halton Hills and Akwesasne – to win the eastern conference title and reach the final series.
The 1976 runner-up Nepean Timbermen are the only Ottawa team to have ever previously reached the league championship final.
The Knights will have a chance to hoist their first OJBLL trophy on Thursday (8 p.m. start) and if necessary Friday (8 p.m.) or Saturday (2 p.m.) at Howard Darwin Centennial Arena on Merivale Road.
SILVER & GOLD FOR MULTIPLE MINOR LACROSSE TEAMS AT PROVINCIALS
Local minor lacrosse teams enjoyed several strong showings at the July 29-Aug. 7
Ontario Lacrosse Festival in Whitby.
The Gloucester Griffins earned the silver medal in the U22 ‘A’ division thanks to a 4-4 tie with Niagara and 8-5 and 9-3 wins over Newmarket and Kawartha Lakes in pool play, an 8-6 semi-final victory over Milton and a 4-1 defeat in their rematch against Niagara in the championship game.
The Nepean Knights also earned an ‘A’ division silver medal at the tournament, theirs coming in the U15 girls’ competition. Nepean opened with a 3-2 win over Peterborough, then downed Six Nations 4-0 and Centre Wellington 4-2 before falling to Barrie 4-1 to conclude their five-team round robin. Barrie again prevailed 3-0 in the final.
The Knights won all of their games en route to the U9 and U22 girls’ ‘B’ division titles, while the U13 Knights’ second team was also unbeaten en route to the ‘D’ division crown.
The Griffins put up a good fight after qualifying for the ‘A’ division of the U11 provincials, but fell 7-5, 6-5 and 5-3 in their three contests, including a match against champion Orangeville, whose tightest match of the tournament was their two-goal win against the Griffins. The Gloucester U17 girls also played in ‘A’ division competition, with two close matches among their four defeats.
OTTAWA ROWING CLUB CAPTURES 5 NATIONAL CROWNS AT HENLEY
The Ottawa Rowing Club won five national titles and 14 medals in total at the
Royal Canadian Henley in St. Catharines, ON from Aug. 2-7.
The Canadian titles came in the women’s senior lightweight quad, four and pair events, and the men’s senior 64 kg cox four and single events. The club’s three silver medals were won in the women’s U23 four and double, and the women’s senior lightweight eight. And Ottawa earned bronze in the women’s U19 quad, the women’s U23 lightweight single, pair and four, the women’s senior eight and the men’s senior lightweight double.
JAMES NEWTON SHOOTS 63, TIES COURSE RECORD AT JUNIOR GOLF NATIONALS
Royal Ottawa Golf Club’s James Newton had a phenomenal start to the 72-hole Canadian boys’ junior golf championships at the Rivershore Estates and Golf Links in Kamloops, B.C.
Newton started his first round on the back nine and fired a seven-under-par 29 en route to a bogey-free, nine-under 63. His score tied the Rivershore course record and earned him a three-stroke lead after the opening 18 holes.
His round was highlighted by an eagle on the 18th hole and seven birdies. Newton was scheduled to finish his second round late Monday night.
“I was hitting it well from tee to green today (Sunday). I gave myself many birdie opportunities with my wedges, but my putter was on fire. Not only was I making birdie putts, but also par saves,” said Newton, the 2021 Ottawa Sports Awards golfer of the year.
“My thought process tomorrow (Monday) is going to be the same as it was today. Stay patient and stay positive.”
The individual winner of the national championship is awarded an exemption into the 2023 United States junior amateur championship in Charleston, South Carolina and a berth in the 2023 Canadian men’s amateur championships.
Newton and Quebec teammates Jean-Philippe Parr and Felix Bouchard were the first-round leaders in the 36-hole inter-provincial team competition. Defending champion Quebec registered an 11-under-par score after the first round for a five-stroke advantage over Ontario.
Ellis Kinnaird of Carleton Place opened with a two-under 70, but dropped to one-under after a second-round 73 for a halfway total of 143.
Isaiah Ibit of Ottawa (72-76-148, four-over-par), Max Corcoran of Ottawa (75-75-150, six-over-par) and Ottawa’s David Lafrenière (81-74-155, 11-over-par) were expected to miss the cut of two-over par.
TAVISTOCK WINS MEN’S CANADIAN U23 FAST PITCH TITLE
Reese Yantzi recorded 11 strikeouts over five innings and Derek Erb drove in four runs as Tavistock Merchants outscored Owen Sound Selects 10-2 to win the Canadian men’s U23 fast pitch championship at the Carp Fairgrounds.
Tavistock only needed two offensive outbursts – three runs in the first inning and a game-deciding seven in the third – to frustrate Owen Sound, which scored single runs in each of the first and second innings. The game ended after Owen Sound’s at-bats in the top of the fifth inning.
Host Ottawa Valley Chiefs won only one of their nine round-robin and classification games. Their only victory was a 5-3 decision over Alvinston Junior Aces, which was Ontario’s No.3 team. The Chiefs were close to the winner’s circle on two other occasions, losing 3-2 to Alvinston and 7-6 to eventual-bronze medallist Delisle Fort Protection Pride from Saskatchewan.
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER IN COMMONWEALTH GAMES RELAY
The Commonwealth Games women’s 4×400-metre relay has a special meaning for former athletics’ sprinter Rosey Edeh and daughter Micha Powell.
At the 1990 Games, Edeh, a co-anchor of CTV Morning News Live Ottawa, was part of Canada’s bronze-medal winning team in the gruelling relay.
Powell went one better, make that two better, than her mom on the final night of the 2022 Games. The Canadian team of Natassha McDonald of Brampton, ON., Alyanna Stiverne of Laval, Powell, and Kyra Constantine of Brampton had a breath-taking photo finish with Great Britain.
Timing officials determined the victory belonged to Great Britain by one one-hundredth of a second over Canada, which had a spectacular, gap-closing sprint from Constantine over the final 200 metres.
But a few minutes after the celebrations, the victory was taken away from Great Britain because of a lane violation. The gold medal was awarded to Canada.
Edeh expressed her reaction to the turn of events on Twitter:
BLAZING START FOR LILLE’S JONATHAN DAVID & CELTIC’S CLARISSA LARISEY
Gloucester’s Jonathan David started his 2022-23 Ligue 1 premier soccer season in France on a positive note.
A key player on the Canadian men’s team, David scored goals in the third and 39th minute and assisted on Benjamin Andre’s marker in the first minute as Lille defeated Auxerre 4-1.
David also was part of an historic moment as Lille became the first team since Nantes in 1993 to score two goals in the first three minutes of a league game.
In her season opener with Celtic FC, Ottawa South United product Clarissa Larisey scored three times in her team’s 9-0 Scottish Women’s Premier League 1 over Hibernian.
The 23-year-old is entering her second season with Celtic, having finished third of 10 teams in her debut campaign.
SILVER FINISH WITH TEAM CANADA FOR 4 OTTAWA SOUTH SOCCER PLAYERS
Four local soccer players powered the Canadian under-15 women’s soccer team to a runner-up finish at the Aug. 1-7 CONCACAF U15 Women’s Championship in Tampa, FL.
Competing at their debut international championship, Ottawa South United Force players Mya Angus, Bianca Hanisch and twins Annabelle and Isabelle Chukwu won three matches to reach to the tournament final.
In the tournament opener, Annabelle Chukwu entered the match at halftime in place of her sister and then scored a goal in Canada’s 5-0 victory over Jamaica.
As seen endless times on local pitches, the Chukwus combined to score in Canada’s second match, with Annabelle heading the ball to Isabelle for one of Canada’s four goals in a 4-1 win over Puerto Rico.
The Canadians fell 1-0 to USA in the last group stage match of the “League A” competition that featured the region’s top-four nations.
Canada then prevailed 6-5 in penalty kicks after a 0-0 contest with Mexico in the semi-final to advance to the championship game against host USA.
Down 2-0, Isabelle Chukwu substituted into the match in the 25th minute and immediately scored in the 26th minute to cut the deficit to one, but that was as close as Canada would get, ultimately falling 4-1 to the Americans.
The OSU quartet were fresh off an Ontario Summer Games gold medal win on July 24 with their club team, and have won all 15 of their provincial matches thus far this season.
LOCAL ULTIMATE TEAMS PREVAIL AT HOME MASTERS NATIONALS
The Ottawa-powered Still ultimate team won the open division and the StellO women’s team both won gold medals at their home Canadian Masters Ultimate Championships, held Aug. 6-7 at Ultimate Parks Inc.
StellO blasted through its first five opponents to reach the final, where they prevailed 4-2 over MaQramée.
Still was equally dominant – a 15-9 victory in their second match was the most points they gave up in six matches, including a 15-6 championship game win over Quack.
TOP-10 AT YOUTH WORLDS FOR LOCAL TEAM CANADA WATER POLO PLAYER
Brooklyn Plomp of the Capital Wave Water Polo Club helped Team Canada to a 10th-place finish at the July 30-Aug. 7 Youth Women’s Water Polo World Championships in Australia.
The Canadians tied Australia 12-12, lost to Netherlands 18-8 and beat South Africa 15-7 in the group round before falling 8-7 to New Zealand in the playoffs to move into the classification round, where they won 14-7 over Kazakhstan and lost to Croatia 15-13.
– with files from Dan Plouffe
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 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.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.