Sault Stryders
Running Club

Katajamaki has high hopes at OFSAA meet
Reported June 2, 2011 by Peter Ruicci for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

The Sault’s Ben Katajamaki heads into OFSAA on a tremendous
high after setting a personal best at the city meet.

Look in the sky.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ...

Ben Katajamaki hopes it's him.

The 18-year-old, Grade 12 student at White Pines collegiate hopes to run fast and fly high this week at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) track and field championships in Sudbury.

The three-day event, featuring the Sault's top track athletes, is slated to begin today.

Katajamaki, a senior boys long jumper, has his sights set on finishing among the top 10 in the province.

"I think that's pretty reasonable," said Katajamaki, who'll be making his second appearance at the all-Ontario meet.

In 2009, as a Junior Division competitor in Grade 10, he won the city and Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) long jump crowns before placing 12th at OFSAA.

This year, he won the city meet with a personal-best jump of 6.61 metres and followed up with a 6.48-metre jump at last week's NOSSA meet, also held in the Nickel City.

"From what I've seen on the Internet, no one going to OFSAA is jumping seven (metres)," Katajamaki, who also stars in high school football and basketball, said. "If I can match my personal best, I think that'll put me in the top-10. I'd like to set another PB, but I don't know how much farther I can jump."

Hitting 6.61 metres at the city meet was a special moment, Katajamaki said.

"The run-up felt perfect and my footing was right on the board," he said. "Everything just felt great. It felt like my best jump ever -- even before they measured it."

Being a sprinter -- he finished third in the senior boys 100m in the city meet -- is a big advantage for Katajamaki.

So is his leaping ability.

With a running start, he says he can dunk a basketball with one hand "every once in a while."

Not bad for a 155-pounder, who stands just 5-foot-11.

During a late winter football clinic held at Korah collegiate, Katajamaki says his vertical leap was measured at 28 inches.

"Being a sprinter is important because you build up more momentum the faster you're going," he said. "You have to have your foot right on the line without going over it and you have to have good form in the air."

Proper technique in the air is where Katajamaki felt he needed more help.

Wolverines coach Terri Lyn Della Penta helped him, both with his run-up and technique in the air.

"No one had ever really taught me technique before," he said. "You have to stretch out and push your hips forward."

Competing early Saturday morning, that stretch and push, Katajamaki hopes, will pull him into the top 10.