It’s not as big as it used to be, but it’s just as important
It’s tempting to say that the 92nd Hamilton Indoor Games Secondary School meet is a shadow of its former self, but when you’ve been going nearly a century and when you’ve got the likes of, among others, Myles Misener-Daly, Alec Parnell and Sebastian Smith on display, you’re not a shadow of anything.
You’ve still got good flesh and solid bones.
For the fifth year in a row, Westdale’s Misener-Daly shattered the 300-metre record for his age class in the Hamilton Games. He did it three straight years in the elementary school meet, as a high school midget last year, and Friday afternoon shattered the junior record for the two-lap race around FirstOntario Centre’s iconic, trampolinelike, wooden track.
Misener-Daly (sprints) of Westdale, Parnell (middle distance) of Dundas Valley and Smith ( jumps) from Sarnia Northern are reigning OFSAA champions and, potentially, bound for greater glory. But they understand that the Hamilton Games fill a necessary function on the local, and provincial, track calendar.
“It’s a good experience,” says Parnell, who won the senior boys 600 metres. “When I was younger, this meet (in the elementary section) helped me decide what sport I wanted to do … and it was track.”
Misener-Daly, who shaved more than a half-second off the junior 300 record, says, “The outdoor season is a lot more im-
portant but indoors is important too because it gets you stronger for outdoor. This meet introduces people to track, and maybe they take a liking to it and bring more people to the track community.”
Westdale is one of the local schools cited as a growth area in athletics by Mike Smith, who runs the track and field program at Dundas Valley. And like so many involved in the indoor games, Smith is among the movers and shakers of the local running, j umping and throwing crowd.
“Westdale has a resurgent program now,” he says. “There’s also been a lot of growth at MacNab and Macdonald. We’ll see what happens i n the spring (for outdoor track.)
“Hamilton Olympic Club registration did pretty well after Canada’s success at the Olympics: a lot of it on the sprint side. People are getting engaged, and there’s a sprint history in this town. We’ve got people from other sports cross-training and starting to like track because of that.”
Still, after the riotous enthusiasm and larger audience at Thursday’s elementary school meet, Fri- day’s high school meet clearly lacked numbers.
There were only 16 schools entered, with just six from outside the Hamilton hinterland and only three — Marshall McLuhan, Henry Carr and Francis Liebermann — from the GTA.
For decades, a dozen or more Toronto schools have added a little more exotic element to the meet. But this year, an indoor meet at York University was moved up a week, conflicting with the Hamilton Games, and most of the Toronto schools chose there instead of here.
Additionally, some school boards have a one-winter-sport policy so many all-round athletes can’t take part in indoor track and field. That impacts the rosters of the relays, the spiritual heart of the Hamilton Games. Plus, there is the accelerating competition for athletes from the rise of club sports.
In the big years of the 1980s and 1990s, when it was attached to the professional-circuit Hamilton Spectator Games, the high school meet had as many as 100 different high schools entered. But contraction has its benefits. “At that time, a school could enter only one or two kids in a race,” says high school meet director, Dan Clark.
“But since there are fewer schools, we’ve opened it up and you can have three or four kids in an event.”
Sarah Cushnie of Westdale, who won the midget girls 1,000 metres, and was city champion in crosscountry last fall, says she views the Hamilton Games, “as a steppingstone and preparation for outdoor track. I want to go to OFSAA for that.”
And Smith, who won the long jump by an absurd amount, and in the meet-concluding high j ump narrowly missed breaking the oldest record on the books, voiced his support.
“I haven’t competed since last year,” he said, “so this meet is important to see how I compare to last year.”
Very well, apparently.
The bell is rung for the final lap of a race Friday, during the 92nd edition of the Hamilton Indoor Games, organized by the 91st Highlanders Athletic Association. For more photos, see S3 and specphotos.ca.
Rachel Krudynsky from Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School in Hamilton competes in the senior girls shot put.
Adrian Dimaculangan from Bishop Ryan shoots away from the start of a 4x100m relay heat.
Camille Arcinas from Francis Libermann high school in Toronto wins the junior girls high jump.