By Larry Moko
Track and field at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds.
“I’m really excited about the number of kids who have come out for the outdoor season,” Tonnos Titans coach Sara Sardo said during the sixth-annual Ray Lewis Relays at McMaster University Tuesday.
“We didn’t have many for indoor track. But as soon as outdoor started at the beginning of April, a million kids signed up. It was really nice to see.”
Sixteen schools from Halton and Hamilton-Wentworth took part in the Mac meet. And as a team, Tonnos finished third overall in the points standings.
According to Sardo, the enthusiasm for running at Tonnos is also reflected by its coaching staff. “A few of our former students (Savannah Simpson, Daniel Tibay and Emma Verbruggen) have come back to help coach,” she said. “That’s nice, too.”
A former figure skater, Simpson won Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic and Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference sprint medals during her high school career at Tonnos. She also competed at Youth Nationals in Prince Edward Island and B.C. in 2012 and 2013 before landing a track scholarship at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C.
Ironically, the last time Simpson ran at the Ray Lewis Relays in 2014 she won the senior girls’ 100-metre event.
“I honestly love track,” Simpson said when asked about her decision to join her father, Tony, as a coaching assistant this season at Tonnos. “Obviously, with my father helping coach, it kind of gave me that extra boost to give back to the sport that gave me so much. Without BT, I wouldn’t have gone to university with track.”
Simpson went to the NCAA school as a sprinter but soon became a hurdler and heptathlete (seven events in two days).
“I loved every minute of it,” Simpson said of her time in the United States running both unattached and as a member of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. Her field of study was Criminal Justice and Sociology.
“I want to give these kids the same hope to realize their potential that I had,” she said.
Simpson said when she competed for the Titans, the team probably consisted of about 20 members.
But, currently, 56 athletes have brought in their permission forms.
“That’s awesome,” she said.
Tonnos scored two first-place finishes at Mac. Its junior girls’ 4x100m relay team – Lauren Smith, Brynn Jurus, Samantha Kupis and Raelene Verbruggen — bested the field in a time of 54.48 seconds. And, individually, Daniel Parchem won the junior boys’ 1600m (5:30.09).
This year’s OFSAA championships for track and field will be held June 7-9 at York University. Up next for many of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic athletes, however, is the Mark Graham Memorial meet. It is scheduled for Thursday, May 3 at Mohawk Sports Complex.
Source: Angelica Tarli