Add Sebastian Smith’s name to the list of unlikely track and field stars.
It’s not that Smith, a Grade 12 student at Northern Collegiate isn’t a fine athlete. The gold medal he won in senior boys’ high jump June 3 at the OFSAA track and field meet in Windsor was his fourth career medal at the Ontario high school championship.
He had top-three finishes previously in long jump, triple jump and high jump, and was a member of several Northern relay teams.
But four years ago, Smith didn’t see a future in track and field. In fact, in Grade 9, he didn’t even bother trying out for Northern’s team.
“It was a month into the season before I decided to try it,” said Smith, who was persuaded by his elementary school basketball coach to give it a shot.
He was an instant success, winning big at his first meet and the rest of the season – right up to that year’s OFSAA championships. He was a double gold-medalist, finishing first in both long jump and triple jump.
“I didn’t really think OFSAA was a big deal,” he admits.
But things have changed.
Smith’s high jump performance at this year’s OFSAA meet was definitely a big deal. His leap of 2.05 metres easily outpaced the second-place height of 1.90. And he nearly went higher.
After two misses he cleared 2.05 easily, then narrowly missed at 2.10 metres, which is nearly six foot, nine inches.
“My body was over … I just caught the bar with my foot” while descending, he said.
“I really wanted to make it. If I’d made 2.10 it would have been the record for Northern, since 1970. I have to come back next year and get it.”
Smith has been contacted by a few Canadian universities but will return for another year of high school this fall. He plans to take courses preparing him for a specific university program – but hasn’t yet decided what that will be.
Sarnia athletes often return from OFSAA with some large medals hauls, but 2016 wasn’t one of those years.
However, three of Smith’s Northern teammates did come through with silver medal performances.
Niles Crews tied for second in the senior boys’ high jump, Matt Boyce finished second in midget boys’ discus, and Kristy Hodgins was second in senior girls’ 400m hurdles.
Northern’s senior boys team was 5th and the Northern boys team finished 10th overall.
Meanwhile, Alexander Mackenzie Secondary’s Tiffany Hillman was third in the girl’s 800m intellectually challenged run, while Abbey Leblanc was third in the 200m wheelchair dash.