–By Ottawa Sportspage, for Louis Riel Sports-Études
It was another strong showing once again this year by local high school athletes at the OFSAA Track-and-Field Championships, and for many of the region’s medallists, their path to the podium began indoors at the Dome LR.
“Having the Dome is really great for us, and for the national capital students,” underlines Sébastien Lalonde, the Louis-Riel Rebelles athletics coach and lead timing official for the Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club. “There’s no doubt we wouldn’t see a lot of the performances we do from athletes in our area without the first-class facility we have.”
A wintertime home to Canadian Olympians such as sprinter Segun Makinde, hurdler Sekou Kaba, and distance runner Lanni Marchant, the Dome LR features Canada’s only 400-metre indoor track – an internationally-recognized Mondo surface.
The crew of 15 Rebelles who qualified for OFSAA 2018 train at the Dome on a daily basis, integrated into their school day as part of the school’s renowned sports-study program.
“It’s beneficial for our student-athletes because their classroom is a few strides away from the track,” adds Lalonde. “Every day, we get to train at the best indoor facility in North America.”
Louis-Riel also regularly welcomes athletes from around the region and beyond, particularly for its series of meets held in late-winter/early-spring. The nine Louis-Riel-run meets in 2018 drew roughly 3,000 participants, bringing the season total combined with cross-country running to 11,898 entries, 7,675 athletes and 1,226 starts in 20 meets.
“It can be hard for some athletes, especially if they’re not running in clubs, to get access to the tracks and meets during the winter,” indicates Lalonde. “The first few prep meets are a great opportunity for them to compete and get excited for the coming season.”
Alongside its seasoned starters and organizers, Louis-Riel also owns a FinishLynx photo-finish timing system, which allows the school to deliver professional-quality meets to the grassroots levels.
“We’ve got it all down to a science now,” Lalonde notes. “There are very few schools in Canada that can do what we do.”
Eight Rebelles established new Franco-Ontario records this year – Marie-Pierre Gauvin, Mélanie Lalonde, Nora Ndjou’ou, Kayla Vieux, Kadiatou Wann, Amara Bagate, Matthieu Rustom and Eliezer Adjibi. At OFSAA June 7-9 in Toronto, Louis-Riel athletes won 5 medals: Adjibi (senior boys’ 100 & 200 m bronze), Caroline Poirier and Annabelle Gagné (senior girls’ pole vault silver & bronze), and the senior girls’ 4×100 m relay team of Gagné, Megan Roy, Wann & Vieux (silver).
The Rebelles scored a dozen total top-10s, which would have placed them 3rd overall in aggregate standings (which are no longer officially tabulated) and the top school out of 3 that ranked teams of both genders in the aggregate standings.
“We were sort of in a rebuilding phase this year,” signals Lalonde, noting many graduates moved on to college track. “But it’s great to see some awesome individual performances, especially from our strong group of first-year seniors, and the nice depth we have on our team to be able to qualify 3 relay teams for provincials. It was a fun year, and I’m looking forward to what we can achieve next in this sport.”