After running the equivalent of nearly six miles in three days, Pickering High School coach Cyril Sahadath decided to rest 4 x 400-metre anchor Xavier King for the final event that would decide this year’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) boys’ champions in Brockville last weekend.
“We needed at least six points to repeat as champions, but Xavier was exhausted and I just did not want to push him further,” said Sahadath. “He had done enough over his career at the school and given us everything he could. This was the time for someone else to step up.”
Zayne Gordon did exactly that, teaming up with Shaquan Williams, Lukas Jarron and Ashton Hyde to win the bronze medal and provide their school with the required six points it needed to win its fourth straight crown and record 13th provincial title.
King, who spent five years at Pickering and Treshaun Abrahams-Webster were the school’s only gold medal winners. King won the 2,000-metre steeplechase in 5:46.65 while Abrahams-Webster captured the midget triple jump event.
“It was a total team effort in a year in which the race for the title was very close,” said Sahadath who has coached the boys and girls teams since 1989. “There were also a few mishaps along the way, including Trever Jean-Baptiste clipping a hurdle in the 300-metre hurdles which was an event he won last year. In addition, sprint hurdler Yazin Joseph was nursing an injury. We had a few things going against us, but our boys showed a lot of determination and courage and I am extremely proud of the effort they gave.”
King, who won 10 medals in five years – three gold, five silver and two bronze – is considering track and field scholarship offers from Iona College in New York and Abilene Christian University in Texas.
“It will be one of them and I will know by the end of June,” said the versatile runner who will compete in the 5000-metre world junior qualifier in Windsor this weekend.
Last year, Sahadath encouraged King to try the steeplechase event.
“It was something new and it just came natural to me,” said King who won the OFSAA event last year in 5.51:81. “I cannot explain why I have done so well in the event, but taking on a new challenge and being successful in it was the highlight of my athletics career at Pickering.”
The Pickering girls’ team failed to clinch a fourth straight title, finishing fifth.
Most of the school’s top athletes play soccer and have secured scholarships to play in the United States. They include Noelle Palmer who has signed with the University of New Hampshire, Amani Thomas who is going to Eastern Kentucky, Kayla Adams who will enter Fairleigh Dickinson in August and Michigan State-bound Maya Daly. In addition, Nichelle Prince and Madeleine Iozzi are members of Canada’s Under-17 soccer team preparing for the World Cup in Azerbaijan from September 22 to October 13.
“Unfortunately, these girls are committed to soccer and we were short-handed,” said Sahadath.
Marlon Laidlaw-Allen of Bendale Business and Technical Institute and Khamica Bingham of Heart Lake Secondary School completed the senior sprint double at the provincial high school championships.
Laidlaw-Allen clocked 10.42 secs. and 21.09 secs. in the 100 and 200-metre finals respectively while Bingham won the 100-metre event in 11.34 secs. and the 200 in 23.52 secs.
The next three OFSAA track and field championships will take place in the Greater Toronto Area. Oshawa will host next year’s event while the 2014 Games will be held in Brampton. Varsity Stadium is the venue for the 2015 meet.
By RON FANFAIR