By RON FANFAIR
Ajax Town Council last week recognized this season’s most successful provincial high school track and field team.
Pickering High School captured the boys and girls team titles at the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Associations’ (OFSAA) championships at the University of Toronto’s refurbished Varsity Stadium last June. It was the sixth title for the boys since 1991 and the second for the female program that was established just three years ago.
“The track and field athletes at Pickering High School have proved that the unthinkable is attainable,” said Ajax Mayor Steve Parish.
The school’s 37-member team secured 11 gold, two silver and bronze medals and established two records at this year’s OFSAA championships. In addition, 11 athletes were chosen to participate in the Festival of Excellence meet in late June at Varsity that featured world sprint champion, Usain Bolt.
“June was a very special month for us because it gave our school the opportunity to show that we are the most dominant track and field team in Ontario,” said coach Cyril Sahadath, who has been at the school for the past two decades. “For a school with limited track and field facilities and to have all these champions is quite phenomenal.”
Trinidad-born Sahadath thanked the school’s principal, Anne Taylor, who attended the event, and the rest of the staff for fully supporting the track and field program that’s considered one of the best in Canada.
Grade 10 student Noelle Leon-Palmer said she was honoured to be recognized and is already looking forward to next season. She won four gold medals at this year’s OFSAA championships and ran a wind-aided 12.13 secs. in the midget 100-metre final. She also anchored the 4 x 100-metre relay team that captured the high school event at the Festival of Excellence meet, and she finished fifth in the 100-metre dash run 35 minutes later.
Last May, the French Immersion student – who also plays soccer for her school and at the rep level – won five events at the Central Regional finals in Midland.
Distance runner Dexter King says he was delighted that he could contribute to the school’s success.
“It was nice to be part of something special and I hope we can repeat the feat this year,” said King, whose father Dexter King represented Birchmount Collegiate in the sprints.
The only African-Canadian in the junior 3,000-metere event, King brushed aside the challenge of 23 contenders, leading from start to finish to complete the race in 8:39.06.
Two members from this season’s championship team – Adrianna Allen and Marissa Smith – secured scholarships to attend American universities.
Smith, a two-time school MVP, is attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa while Allen – the Female Athlete of the Year and one of the school’s most decorated athletes – is on a basketball scholarship at Monmouth University in New Jersey.