Local athletes strike gold at OFSAA track and field championship

Anna Kistulinec didn't expect to vault much higher than three metres this season.

Camille Blain, left, Payton Sabourin, Chloe Pugh and Emma Pegg of the Chatham-Kent Golden Hawks won gold in the open girls' 4x400-metre relay at the OFSAA track and field championship in Guelph, Ont., on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Photo taken in Chatham, Ont., on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network

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Anna Kistulinec didn’t expect to vault much higher than three metres this season.

She was happy to be proven wrong at the OFSAA track and field championship.

The Grade 9 student from Blenheim won the midget girls’ pole vault by clearing a personal-best 3.10 metres last weekend in Guelph.

“It feels good,” Kistulinec said. “It doesn’t really feel like much right now, but I know it is. I think it’s still surreal, so it doesn’t feel like it happened.”

Kistulinec was perfect on her first seven attempts. She tied her previous personal-best of 3.00 metres on her sixth and won gold on her seventh.

She didn’t miss until her three attempts at 3.20 metres.

Kistulinec has used three poles at most meets this spring. She changes them depending on their length, flex and weight limit.

She used more than ever at the OFSAA meet.

“I moved a lot of poles,” she said. “The flex was stronger on them. I think I moved … five or six poles on the weekend, so that helped.”

Staying loose also helped. She wasn’t intimidated by the competition.

“I was really relaxed because they were people I’d jumped with before,” Kistulinec said.

The vaulters just hung out and had fun, she said. They talked, but not about the meet.

“I focus, but I’m not the person that just sits there by herself and waits for the jump,” Kistulinec said. “I like to get to know people and socialize a bit.”

Anna Kistulinec of the Blenheim Bobcats won gold in the midget girls’ pole vault at the OFSAA track and field championship in Guelph, Ont., on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Contributed Photo)

Local athletes won seven medals, including five gold, at the OFSAA championship.

Alison Stephens of Chatham-Kent won her second career gold by dominating the senior girls’ discus.

She had the four best throws in the competition and five of the top six.

“I probably had one of the best series of the season,” she said. “I’d only been over 42 metres twice before OFSAA, then I was able to throw my first two throws over 42.”

She was even better on her third attempt. She broke her personal-best with a winning toss of 43.26 metres.

Stephens won silver in discus as a midget and gold as a junior before placing fourth last year in her senior debut.

“I try not to think too much about winning or PBing just because the year before had been disappointing,” she said. “But I try to go into these larger meets thinking I’ll be able to throw my best. These larger meets, there’s more pressure but it’s not bad pressure.”

She’ll continue throwing this summer with the London Western Track and Field Club before leaving for her freshman season at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“At this point, I’m hoping to get as close to 45 (metres) by the end of the year as possible,” Stephens said.

Emma Pegg of Chatham won gold in the junior girls’ 800 and 1,500 metres. She also teamed with Camille Blain, Chloe Pugh and Payton Sabourin to win gold in the open girls’ 4×400-metre relay.

The same quartet won silver in the 4×400 last year.

Pegg has six career medals and Blain has five for OFSAA track and field. Pugh and Sabourin have two apiece.

Jeremy vandenBoorn of Ursuline won silver in the midget boys’ shot put with a toss of 14.83 metres.

“I know I can do better, but what I’m throwing is still really good,” vandenBoorn said.

He added: “I was happy with second. What my teammates and coaches said to me is I haven’t lost enough to understand how big this is. I’m too hard on myself.”

Kincardine’s Ben Brewer won gold with 16.30 metres. He and vandenBoorn were the only two throwers to eclipse 14 metres at the regional meets or OFSAA.

As the second-seeded thrower, vandenBoorn went into his biggest meet yet with some pressure.

“A little bit,” he said, “but I knew as long as I did my technique right and did everything proper, I’d be on the podium.”

McGregor’s Jaden Wilson was also confident he could win a medal in the junior boys’ 100-metre hurdles. He was seeded first after the regionals and placed third in the heats.

He won bronze in 13.76 seconds while shattering his personal-best time.

“I knew I was capable of finishing on the podium,” he said while praising his parents’ support. “All the coaches believed in me. Everybody believed in me.”

Wilson didn’t even reach the OFSAA West Region meet last year after placing seventh at SWOSSAA. That disappointment fueled him this spring.

“Last year, taking that loss at SWOSSAA and clipping that hurdle took me extremely far,” he said. “Practice went to a whole new level.”

Wilson still sees room for improvement. He’s watched the OFSAA final several times and spotted his technical mistakes.

“There’s some things I need to fix,” he said. “… In that race, things were a bit wonky.”

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