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Churchill distance runner has the winning pace

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Connor Boyd had a plan, and he executed it to perfection.

The Grade 11 student from Churchill High School decided before the final heat of the varsity boys’ 1,500-metres at the provincial high school track championship that he would try to stay with Elmwood’s Jean-Baptiste Ajua until there were 300 metres to go. Then he’d make his move.

That’s exactly what Boyd did. He and Ajua opened a gap on the rest of the field, and then the Riverview resident shifted into a different gear as he entered the back stretch.

Boyd won provincial gold with a personal best time of 4:02.66, while Ajua clocked in at 4:06.25. Shiloh Johnson of St. Paul’s took bronze in 4:13.90.

"That was the plan we came up with," Boyd said while catching his breath after the race. "J.B. is so good, I knew if I ran with him I could give it a last-ditch effort for the last 300."

Boyd was just as excited about his time as he was about winning the race.

"It’s a really good feeling to get a (personal best)," he said. "If you asked me before the race, I’d say if I could run that time it would be a success. Winning is a cherry on top."

Boyd, who trains with coach Andy Tough at Tough Track club, recently finished second in his best event, the 800 metres, at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville with a time of 1:54.77.

He’s also slated to compete in a major meet in North Carolina and in the national junior championships this summer.

"This is one of the bigger meets of the year for me," Boyd said of the high school event. "Everybody from the province is here, and we have some great runners."

Boyd also took home gold in the 800-metre final in a time of 1:56.63.

In the varsity girls’ 1,500, Rebekah Sass of St. Mary’s Academy made her move with about 200 metres remaining to take gold.

Sass pulled away from Kyla Siemens of Linden Christian School to finish in 4:34.17. Siemens was about four seconds behind, while Erin Tramley of Kelvin won bronze in 4:58.47.

The first provincial record to fall at this year’s meet came courtesy of Carman’s Jay Ort in the junior varsity boys’ 1,500. He shattered a 13-year-old record by more than five seconds, finishing in 4:02.26, ahead of Shane Dillon of St. Paul’s and Egide Ndayirukiye of St. John’s.

Two more provincial records fell on the meet’s opening day, and they weren’t even in event finals.

Robyn Wear of Springs Christian Academy launched herself 5.88 metres in the varsity girls’ long jump prelims to break a 22-year-old record by nearly a quarter of a metre.

Meanwhile, Bright Uchechukwu of Fort Richmond Collegiate set a JV girls’ shot put record at 9.95 metres, just 1/100th of a metre better than the previous mark set in 2006.

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