Coming straight off the ski slopes from training camps in Europe to the recent U16 Eastern Finals at Calabogie Resort, Team Ontario skier Abbygail Byers barely had time to slip on her running shoes before competing at last week’s track and field regionals. For the Grade 9 athlete, who just completed her ski season weeks earlier, it was all the time she needed, however.
Hitting the ground running at Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association (CWOSSA) at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge, Byers picked up three gold medals in all three of her events and tied for first overall in the female midget division at the event.
“I just love sport,” said Byers of her ferocious pace. “I find when I’m not doing something, I’m like ‘I’m bored. We need to do something,’” she added with a laugh.
Just last term, Byers was in Austria in October, missed the whole of December at school to ski in B.C., and was on the slopes between Christmas break and the end of March. It will still be peak summertime here in the townships when Byers leaves for Switzerland in August to start the ski season all over again.
In the meantime, she’ll be using the warmer months to collect a few more medals in her other great passion: track and field.
Claiming the top spot in the women’s 100- and 200-metre dash events and the women’s long jump, Byers will be joining just a handful of EDSS students at the Ontario Federation Secondary School Athletics Association West Games, which kick off Friday at the Cambridge school. It’s the penultimate competition before the OFSSAA provincials next week.
Also making the cut by leaps and bounds was Grade 9 EDSS student Jamie Crawford, who placed first in both the men’s long jump and triple jump midget events. The basketball player found a natural fit for his abilities in the field events, and only recently began to commit to the jumping events in track and field.
“I’ve been playing basketball my entire life and there’s a lot of jumping in basketball. But I’ve never done anything like track or training outside of school,” said Crawford.
Clearly, though, Crawford has an aptitude for the sport. The young athlete tied for third place overall in the midget division at the CWOSSA games with two gold medals, jumping an impressive 5.76 metres or almost 19 feet in the long jump, and 12.71 m (41 ft) in the triple jump.
“I’m really happy with how I did,” said Crawford. “Some of the jumps, I was not expecting to do that well because I’ve gotten a personal best jump on each of the meets I’ve gone to. But some of the jumps I did not feel like I was going to go as far as I did.”
This is Crawford’s first attempt at an OFSSA championship, though he still must do well at the OFSSA West competitions to qualify for the final provincial games.
“I am really nervous, actually, because I never expected to get this far, because I thought in high school the competition was going to be really crazy,” admitted Crawford. “But hopefully I’ll do pretty decently there. And I know I have the rest of my track team coming to support me.”
Also medaling at the CWOSSA games was EDSS distance runner Kieran Stewart, with a bronze in the women’s 1,500-metre midget run and silver in the 3,000m. Senior runner Lizzy Klosa, meanwhile, placed fourth in the women’s 400-metre hurdles.
The EDSS women’s relay team, featuring Byers, Amanda Martin, Amilya Wilson and Shelby Mikel also brought home the bronze in the women’s 4×100-metre junior relay event.
The OFSSA West track and field meet will get underway tomorrow (Friday) at 1:30 p.m. at Jacob Hespeler in Cambridge, and continues into Saturday. Only the top athletes will go on to the OFSSA provincials, which run June 6 to 8 at the University of Guelph.