Sault teen wins gold at OFSAA
St. Mary's student captures title in Midget Boys' 100-metre dash
It finally began to sink in Sunday, and Andrew Baziuk loved the feeling.
The Grade 9 student at St. Mary’s College won a gold medal in the Midget Boys’ 100-metre race Friday at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Track and Field Championships in St. Catharines.
The three-day event concluded Saturday.
After qualifying with the event’s third-best time in heats (:11.93), the 15-year-old Baziuk ran the final in :11.60, 1/100ths of a second ahead of the runner-up.
“I didn’t expect this in a million years,” he said. “My goal was to finish at least in the top five. But this is definitely the biggest thrill I’ve ever had in sports.”
Meantime, another Sault Ste. Marie competitor earned an OFSAA medal. Tyler Koskenoja, of White Pines, finished third in Senior Boys’ javelin with a toss of 57.33 metres.
After bursting upon the local track scene in recent weeks, Baziuk entered OFSAA on a high.
He won three gold medals at the May 21 city meet and repeated that feat at the May 29-30 Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) championships.
Not only that, Baziuk set a new NOSSA midget record in the 100m, running his heat in :11.3, breaking the old mark by one-tenth of a second.
While preparing for the provincials, Baziuk worked especially hard on his start.
“And that’s what won me the race,” he said Sunday.
“I got an amazing start. The timing was perfect and I had the lead by five metres.”
Baziuk said he was stunned after crossing the finish line and hearing the public address announcer proclaim him the winner.
He couldn’t believe it at first, and neither could his parents, Dennis and Pat Baziuk, when he telephoned home.
“My mom started crying,” he said.
“This has really inspired me and I’ll be training all year for next season.”
“I was extremely impressed,” said Knights’ assistant track coach Mike Girard. “To me, he (Baziuk) is a natural athlete. He’s in his first year of high school, but he kept his cool and was very mature.”
Koskenoja, thought by many to be the favourite in his event, was disappointed with his bronze-medal performance.
“I was going there to win,” said Koskenoja, who had previously secured gold and bronze medals in all-Ontario championships.
With a toss of 62.30 metres, the 18-year-old, OAC student, broke the Senior Boys’ javelin record at last month’s city meet. He followed that up with a NOSSA gold medal. A year ago, competing as a junior, Koskenoja recorded a throw of 59.40 metres to establish a new city standard in that age group.
But, having always competed on grass runways, he found it difficult to adjust to the rubber surface in St. Catharines, falling on his first throw.
“I slipped and fell pretty hard,” Koskenoja said. “I had never fallen before and that shook me up. After that, I couldn’t focus. I was leery of falling again.”
Of his 57.33-metre toss, Koskenoja said he normally can almost reach that distance throwing without benefit of a run.
In all, Sault and area competitors recorded 22 top-10 finishes.
Matt Chaimbrone of St. Mary’s wound up fifth in the Senior Boys’ 400m.
Sir James Dunn’s Dan Kennedy had a pair of sixth-place finishes, in the Junior Boys’ shot putt and discus.
Korah’s Clyde Bridge was sixth in the Senior Boys’ 200m.
Ryan Kent of Central Algoma Secondary School (CASS) was sixth in both the Midget Boys’ 400m and 1,500m.
Matt Dias of St. Basil placed 10th in the 1,500m.
The SJD Open Women’s 4-by-400m relay team of Janine Olthuis, Marnie Smith, Kristen Johnson and Kristen Avery placed seventh.
Ben Warnock (SJD) was seventh in the Senior Boys’ long jump.
Amanda Evans (White Pines) finished seventh in Senior Girls’ javelin, while Kelsey Wilson (St. Mary’s) had the same placing in the Junior Boys’ javelin.
In Midget Boys’ javelin, Jonathon Mullin (St. Mary’s) was seventh while Jeremy Hodgson (CASS) wound up eighth. Hodgson was also 10th in shot putt.
Tara Paluzzi (St. Basil) wound up ninth in both the Junior Girls’ 100m and triple jump.
James Campbell (SJD) was ninth in the Midget Boys’ 1,500m.
In the Senior Boys’ 400m hurdles, Andrew Ross (St. Mary’s) wound up ninth, one place ahead of Chris Siegman (St. Basil).
Rocky Robitaille (St. Mary’s) placed 10th in the Junior Boys’ 3,000m.