By Larry Moko
McMaster Marauders head football coach Stefan Ptaszek doesn’t just attend high school sporting events for the purpose of scouting potential university football players.
He also occasionally likes to watch his kids compete in races.
On Tuesday, for example, he travelled to Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Campbellville and saw his daughter, Anna, finish second in the novice girls’ division of the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference track and field championships.
With that result, the St. Mary Crusaders Grade 9 student qualifies for the OFSAA meet Nov. 5 at Dagmar Ski Resort. All GHAC individuals who either finished in the top five Tuesday or were part of the top two teams in each age group advance to the provincial high school showcase event.
Anna’s time for the 4-kilometre course was 18 minutes, 03 seconds.
“The sport of running is super fun,” Ptaszek said. “She enjoys every second of it. It’s wonderful for her transition to high school. It’s been a real complement to the whole education process.”
Anna’s older brother, Chris, runs track at St. Mary. In addition, both are members of the Hamilton Olympic Club.
Anna also finished second to the same girl – Maya Markowska of Burlington Central – at the pre-GHAC race a week ago on the same course.
“I felt strong and I’m happy with the way it went today,” Anna said “I’ve always loved running. It’s my favourite thing to do. I’m looking forward to OFSAA.”
Ptaszek was an outstanding high school football player at Burlington Nelson. He went on to play and coach in the Canadian Football League. He also has won a Vanier Cup and received CIS coach-of-the-year honours during his 13 seasons at Mac.
In other action, Chloe Seiler of the Bishop Tonnos Titans raced to a first-place finish in the junior girls’ 5K. She crossed the line in 22:21 to lead the pack.
According to Seiler, she felt motivated along the way. “Last year I didn’t do so well,” she said, “I thought about how I felt when I got eighth. So I took that anger and used it. It fuelled me to run fast.”
So fast, in fact, she collapsed at the finish line and stayed down for approximately 10 minutes.
“At OFSAA I want to finish in the top 15,” the HOC runner and former OFSAA track participant said.
Tonnos also came second in the junior girls’ team competition. The Titans were represented by Seiler, Ilaria Mele, Sofia Tilley, Samantha Palma, Tessa Harvey and Veronica Tomlinson.
“You can never expect to win, but we were hopeful,” said Sara Sardo who, along with Sean McPhee, coaches the Titans. “When they found out they won they were ecstatic.”
Another OFSAA qualifier from Bishop Tonnos will be Nicolas Fricano. He came second in the para 3K (24:56). “This will be my fourth time going to OFSAA,” Fricano said. “I got silver there last year. I can do better. My goal is first.”
Fricano said the Hilton Falls course was challenging. “The hills were high,” he said. “And going down you had to be careful.”
Two other Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association representatives punched their OFSAA ticket. In the senior girls’ 6K, Olivia Lanc of the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves came fifth (28:03) while Ashley Pinciaro of the Bishop Ryan Celtics placed sixth (28:06).