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As busy as when the snow flies

Weekly Column appears in Northern Life - every Thursday

Countless are the winter weekends where the sheer number of local sporting events far outnumber the realistic possibilities of coverage. Thankfully, that’s not the case for the bulk of the Saturdays and Sundays through the summer. Just not so much so this past weekend as athletes were kept busy on the football field (Sudbury Gladiators), the pool (Jeno Tihanyi Swim Meet), the soccer pitch (Ontario Cup playdowns), the track (Legion H Track & Field Meet) as well as the ball diamonds (Rick McDonald Memorial Tournament).

Inevitably, some of the competitions will fall between the cracks when it comes to media coverage, a mere function of the impossibility of being in several places at one time. With that in mind, we’ll try and get you caught up on what you might have missed.

The Sudbury Athletic U-15 boys soccer team christened the 2009 season at the James Jerome Complex by welcoming the Markham Lightning, Whitby Iroquois and Caledon Crusaders to town for first round U-15 Tier II Ontario Cup action. The tiered format has seen local teams at this age group and above achieve a degree of success, certainly dating back to the recent past of the Panhellenic Timberwolves and others.

The script could not have been written much better for the Athletic and their fans (save the on-going goofy weather that all sports were dealing with). Both the host team and the Crusaders chalked up back to back wins over Markham and Whitby – and both by identical scores of 2-1 and 6-1. This set the stage for a final round robin game that would see the combatants dead even in virtually every respect as both Sudbury and Calendon sought to secure a berth in a semi-final match on August 29th in Scarborough.

And dead even they would remain, for a lengthy period of time. Jesse Johnson vaulted the Athletic to a first half lead, only to see the Crusaders pull even before the half. The 1-1 deadlock remained through the entire second half, leaving OSA officials and teams in a quandary. The rules stipulate that in the event of a tie that is maintained right through to goals for and against, the OSA is to pull a name out of a hat in order to determine a winner.

Understandably, neither team liked that approach and with the good fortune allowing for the fact that both teams were already present with round robin play finished, all agreed to decide matters on penalty kicks. Thankfully for Athletic coach Jeff Vaillancourt and company, Johnson would convert, as would teammates Liam Doyle, Emerson Carniel and James Larocque. Meanwhile, keeper Connor Griffiths comes through with a pair of big time diving saves and it’s on to the final four for the local lads.

Perhaps not the tense, gut-wrenching excitement of a shootout final when it comes to the District H Legion Track & Field meet Saturday at Confederation Secondary – but some outstanding local performances, nonetheless. Approximately 250 young athletes gathered from across northern Ontario, with strong contingents on hand from North Bay, Parry Sound and Sault Ste Marie.

The Sudbury crew received its most noteworthy showing in the 16-17 age bracket as some very familiar names ganered gold. Serena San Cartier finished first in both the 100m and 200m sprints, making up for any disappointment she may have felt over the fact that her specialty event (hurdles) were not being contested at this meet.

On the road to recovery following a nasty infection sustained just prior to OFSAA, Ross Proudfoot cruised to victory in both the 1500m and 3000m races, outkicking Track North club mate Jeremy Cooper from Manitoulin Island. Alannah MacLean crossed the wire first in the 400m while Zack Caverson equaled that feat in the 14-15 boys 1500m race.

Yet another multiple event winner, on somewhat of a local front as Manitoulin Central Grade 6 student Kennedy Lanktree picked up a pair of first place ribbons, capturing the Triple Jump and 1500m event for the Girls 12-13 division. But she would save her best for two days later, competing at the same venue on Monday as the Rainbow Board staged their Champions Meet.

Only two records were set during this year’s Rainbow meets, both courtesy of yet another potential jumping phenom from West of Sudbury. Lanktree re-wrote her own mark in the triple jump, soaring 8.72 metres. But it was her performance in the Atom long jump that had the crowd buzzing in Valley East.

Her jump of 4.38 metres not only broke the previous mark established by Anne Belland (Levack) 33 years ago, it also surpassed her nearest competitor by almost a full metre. Still not impressed? Consider the following: just in the process of finishing Grade 6, Lanktree’s leap would have captured Gold in both the Midget and Junior Girls divisions at the city high-school championships held last month at Confederation.

In fact, she came just four centimeters shy of equaling the first place performance of Arianne Morin (Lively) in the Senior Girls event. No surprise then that the talented youth is also a huge fan of Caroline Ehrhardt, quadruple OFSAA Gold medalist in jumps in the past two years.

Finally, both the fastball and slo-pitch crews out in Azilda survived everything Mother Nature could throw at them before crowning champions at the 10th Annual Rick McDonald Memorial Tournament held at the ballpark named in his honour. Ageless chucker “Swede” Dahlvick pitched the JB Red Sox to their fastball title as the makeshift squad upended the Sagamok Rez Riders 7-4 in the championship affair.

In the slo-pitch event which features strictly law enforcement personnel, Sudbury OPP reeled off five straight wins, clipping Team Prevost 11-7 in the final as Joanne Colombe enjoyed a perfect 3/3 outing at the plate for the victors.

Northern Hockey Academy