A pair of local(ish) athletes provided a northern Ontario highlight to the 2014 Canadian Track and Field Championships in Moncton over the weekend, with both Caroline Ehrhardt and Ross Proudfoot cracking the podium.
For Ehrhardt, who trained for years with the Track North Athletic Club and now competes with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, winning the triple jump is becoming routine.
Her gold medal this year marks the fourth consecutive crown for the Espanola native, essentially dominating the event since her graduation from the junior ranks in 2011.
None of the previous three victories, however, might have been quite as dramatic. Ehrhardt needed back-to-back jumps of 13.02 and 13.06 metres Saturday afternoon to edge out teammate Alicia Smith.
With Smith having hit 13.06m with her second of six jumps in the finals, Ehrhardt was sitting second heading into her final two attempts, sailing 12.73m with her fourth jump. The holder of the Canadian interscholastic high school record finally cracked through the 13-metre barrier on jump five, falling just short of Smith at 13.02.
This distance, however, would quickly prove critical. With Ehrhardt somehow finding the strength to stretch out her jump another four centimetres on her final attempt, equalling the best that Smith could produce, the rules state that the second best jump becomes the determining factor, with Ehrhardt (13.02) just ahead of Smith (12.98).
This marks the second consecutive year that Ehrhardt has pulled ahead of Smith on her final jump at nationals, coming from behind to win last June in Moncton as well.
Lo-Ellen Park graduate and Track North alumnus Ross Proudfoot, on the other hand, was experiencing the thrill of walking away with a medal, at this level, for the very first time. Proudfoot posted a time of 3:43.11 in the men's 1500m final, edging Daniel Gorman of Halifast Athletics by 3/100ths of a second.
The pair was just off the pace set by race winner Nathan Brannen (3:42.50) and silver-medal winner Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (3:42.85). Proudfoot is expected to leave for Europe in the near future, looking for some top-end races that could push him towards times of 3:47 or 3:48, certainly within reach for the Lively native who posted a personal best of 3:40.33 earlier this summer in Guelph.
The local track and field community now turn their attention to the 2014 Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships, opening on Friday in Sainte-Thérèse (Quebec) and running through until Sunday, July 6.