March Snapshots: A roundup of local sports action

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Former Team Homan lead Lisa Weagle

By Ottawa Sportspage

Lisa Weagle joins Team Jones after split with Team Homan

The former lead of Team Homan signed on with Jennifer Jones’ Olympic gold medal-winning team after she was released from the Ottawa-based group. The team skipped by Rachel Homan announced on March 12 that long-time lead Weagle would no longer curl with their team.

Weagle told The Canadian Press shortly after Team Homan released a statement about her departure that she had not been consulted about the decision, and that she only found out when Homan and the team’s third, Emma Miskew called her to tell her.

During her 11-year run with Team Homan, Weagle helped the team win three Scotties Tournament of Hearts championships and a World Curling Championship, as well as secure a trip to the previous Olympic Games.

Shortly after announcing that Weagle would no longer be the team’s lead, Team Homan announced that Joanne Courtney would move to Weagle’s position and Toronto native Sarah Wilkes would take over as lead. Wilkes won a gold medal at last year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts with Team Alberta.

Weagle will now join a 5-player Team Jones squad alongside fellow Ottawa native Dawn McEwen, who won Olympic gold as the rink’s lead in 2014.

Camm a near-medallist at Brier

Mat Camm, who represented Ottawa and Navan Curling Club in his formative years, came up just short of a medal at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier with Team Ontario. The Rockland curler played the second position for John Epping and helped them to a record of 7 wins and 4 losses at the bonspiel that serves as the Canadian men’s curling championship. Ontario came up just short of the playoff round with a record that tied them for 4th place with the Wild Card team, Team Canada and the team representing Northern Ontario at the Kingston-held event. Ottawa native John Morris was Ontario’s alternate at the Brier, which was played from late February to early March.

Blondin comes back to earth at World Cup finale, finishes 1st & 3rd in season standings in top disciplines

Ivanie Blondin put in a more-human performance at the final World Cup event for speedskating than fans had become accustomed to this season. The Ottawa skater finished in 5th in the mass start, 9th in the 1500 metre, and 6th in the 3000 m. Blondin dominated the circuit all year, finishing the International Skating Union’s World Cup season atop the standings in the mass start and ranked 3rd in the world in the long distance standings.

Blondin’s Team Canada teammate Isabelle Weidemann, who like Blondin is also a product of the Gloucester Concordes, placed 1st in the final World Cup’s 3000 m race. She finished 2nd in the season’s international standings in the 3000 m, and was just 4 points shy (behind 353 to 357) of legendary Czech skater Martina Sáblíková, who was the long distance discipline champion.

Rahneva records consistently strong World Cup season

Ottawa’s Mimi Rahneva finished 5th overall in this year’s World Cup skeleton rankings. Although she only won one medal on the World Cup circuit (placing 2nd in the third World Cup of the season in Germany) this season, she was one spot away from a podium finish at four other events and only finished outside of the top 7 at a single World Cup competition. An elite group of women dominated the top of the World Cup this season, with Rahneva being one of just seven who won medals all year.

Barresi steps down as Gee-Gees football coach

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees football head coach Jamie Barresi announced in March that he would be stepping down from his position. He coached the Gee-Gees for seven seasons, recording a 36-27 record along the way. The Gee-Gees could never advance beyond the OUA semifinals during Barresi’s tenure. Barresi began his coaching career with the Gee-Gees as a member of the team’s staff from 1981-83, shortly after he left the university where he played quarterback from 1976-79. He’s been coaching the Gee-Gees since 2013 after stints in the NCAA and CFL.

Nepean Knights relay swim champs lead Ottawa’s March OFSAA performances

The Dave Bakelaar-coached Nepean High School 4×50-Metre Girls’ Medley Swimming Team of Jasmine Delima-Baril, Karina Gruson, Amari Delima-Baril and Abby Brousseau captured Ottawa’s lone team gold medal at OFSAA early-spring championships.

At the Mar. 3-4 high school provincials in Toronto, the Knights’ national capital record time of 2:00.75 brought them in over 1 second ahead of their nearest challengers in the 31-team open competition. Karina Gruson also earned an individual bronze medal in the open girls’ 100 m short-course individual medley.

The Nepean quartet are all members of the Swim Ottawa club and are ranked among the top athletes nationally in their age groups.

Competing a couple of days later at the club provincials, also in Toronto, Amari Delima-Baril won 3 more relay medals with Swim Ottawa – silvers for the 4×100 m and 4×50 m medleys and bronze in the 4×100 m freestyle.

Two more local swimmers earned gold medals at OFSAA – John McCrae’s Eugene Yarmolau (high school boys’ age 15 & over 100 m IM) and Ashbury’s Henry Fu (open boys’ 50 m freestyle), who also added a silver in the 100 m free. Ashbury’s Hannah Laquerre (high school girls’ 15+ 100 m breaststroke) was also a silver medallist.

Four Ottawa wrestlers won bronze medals at their Mar. 2-4 OFSAA championships in Sault Ste. Marie – Sacred Heart’s Max Roxburgh (boys’ 67.5 kg) and Sam Griffin (boys’ 77 kg), Cairine Wilson’s Kiera Armstrong (girls’ 41 kg), and Canterbury’s Laila Seed-Desai (girls’ 44 kg).

The top local results from OFSAA boys’ basketball championships were antique-bronze (4th-place finishers) performances by Notre Dame (at the ‘A’ championships for the province’s schools with the smallest student populations) and Ashbury (‘AA’), while Louis-Riel was the consolation bracket champion after deciding to challenge themselves in ‘AAA’ competition despite being an ‘A’ size school, placing 9th overall against Ontario’s largest schools.

The remaining OFSAA spring championships have been cancelled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local male gymnasts hit podium in what proves to be season’s final provincial competition

Nepean-Corona Competitive clubmates Triton Huff-Boyle, Liam McLean and Yasir El Sakka earned 3 of the 4 local division championship titles from the Mar. 6-8 Ontario Cup men’s artistic gymnastics competition in Ottawa.

The young prospects respectively topped the Level 1 – Age 8, Level 2 – Age 10-11, and Level – Under-13 all-around competitions, recording podium finishes on each apparatus.

Riley Gonzalez (Level 5) from the host Ottawa Gymnastics Centre was the other local all-around champion at the competition, while Tumblers’ Olivier Carriere, Rideau’s Jacob Martin, and Ottawa’s Toby Kagume and Owen Wendler also hit the all-around podium.

With the early-April Ontario Championships now cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the OGC meet with over 375 athletes marked the final provincial meet of the season.

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