By Larry Moko
An ability to re-focus was key to Mark Skerl’s success at the OFSAA track and field championships Friday.
While the Cardinal Newman Grade 10 student was competing in the junior boys’ long jump event at Guelph’s Alumni Stadium, his 100-metre hurdles final got under way.
So Skerl shifted gears. And, impressively, he not only won a gold medal in that race, he set a new OFSAA record of 12.95 seconds in doing so.
Then it was a return to the pit area where, on his sixth and final attempt, Skerl overtook the leader with a jump of 6.66 metres to capture gold.
“It’s hard to focus when you’re coming back from another event,” said Skerl, who was in first place when he left for the hurdles and in second place when he returned. “I just had a ton of adrenaline coming back from the 100m hurdles. I jumped the jump of my life and I won. It was a personal best.”
The previous OFSAA hurdle mark of 13.31 had stood since 2008.
“It was one of the best races of my life,” said Skerl, who in preliminaries missed the 100m hurdle record by just 0.02 of a second.
Skerl also established an OFSAA record as a midget last year in the 300m hurdles (39.79).
Tom Bereza, who coaches Skerl at the Monte Cristo Track Club, said having a field event and a race overlap happens often and can be a problem for some athletes.
“It’s more mental than anything,” he said. “You’re trying to think of too many things at once instead of focusing on what you need to do. From what I saw today, Mark was at long jump but his mind was on hurdles. He was jumping well. He jumped 6.31 and 6.34 and then had to leave. You could see when he came back after the hurdles medal ceremony he was able to focus purely on long jump.”
Another one of Bereza’s athletes at Monte Cristo – Hailey Reid of St. Mary – also turned in an outstanding performance. In the midget girls’ 80m final she captured gold in a personal-best time of 11.92.
Said Bereza: “Hailey looked nervous in the heats. She got through it, though, and ran a great race in the final.”
Reid competed last March at Canadian indoor nationals in Montreal (winning the 60m hurdles) and hopes to take part in the outdoor nationals in Nova Scotia in August.
“I was terrified going in but I feel really good about it now,” Reid said of her route to the 80m hurdles title. “It’s the time I’ve been wanting all season.
“I hope to get PBs through the next couple of months.”
Reid’s teammate at St. Mary – Olivia Stock – raced to a silver medal in the junior girls 80m hurdles. Her time was 11.75.
Stock also placed seventh in the 100m finals (12.65) and, with teammates Taryn Millar, Rachel Watson and Reid, finished fifth in the senior girls’ 4x100m relay.
Jaden Mullings of the Bishop Tonnos Titans, a silver-medal winner on opening day, ended up 21st junior girls’ long jump (4.46m).
Tiago Brum of Tonnos raced to a second-place finish in the 100m visually impaired category (13.43), while fellow Titan Antonio Fricano was eighth in the 100m intellectually impaired division (13.06).
The three-day meet concludes Saturday.
Source: Marnie Jadon