By Josh Howald
Despite coming home from the national championships with two top-20 finishes Saturday, Kortney Watson said her biggest achievement was finishing the season injury free.
Kortney Watson raced the 1,500m and the 3,000m at the 2011 Legion Canadian Youth Track and Field Championships last weekend in Ottawa.
The 16-year-old Kincardine athlete finished 15th in the 3,000m and 19th in the 1,500m races at the 2011 Legion Canadian Youth Championships in Ottawa on the weekend.
“I think I’m just happy not to be injured,” she chuckled Sunday. “It’s honestly my biggest accomplishment.”
Watson missed nearly a year of competition and training with a foot injury, and was later sidelined after injuring her knee in last year’s OFSAA cross-country championships. This summer, however, she maintained her health and got in a full season with the Saugeen Track and Field Club.
She had first and second place finishes for Kincardine District Secondary School in her two specialties, and went on to win a CWOSSA bronze medal. She was then 7th at the OFSAA West Regional in the 1,500m, which qualified her for the weekend meet at Ottawa’s Terry Fox Athletic Facility.
She later qualified for the 3,000m race at a Toronto Twilight Series race. She competed in several Twlight events – held at night when the conditions are cooler. Those events had open divisions, meaning she was often tested against university aged track athletes. She posted a time of 10.46.6 at a Twilight event in Toronto to meet the qualifying standard at the Legion Canadian Championships.
“I’ve been working hard,” she said. “I’ve been training three times each week in Port Elgin, and pretty well competing once a week. I only returned in February, so it’s nice to be back.”
She was one of four females from the Saugeen Track Club to compete at the Nationals, a two-day meet with more than 1,000 competitors. Hot conditions made things difficult for the athletes, and especially for Watson who is used to competing at night. Still, on Friday she turned in a time of 4:52.28 in the 1,500m to finish 19th overall. The next day, she finished the 3,000m in 10:57.28, which left her 15th in Canada’s under-18 division.
“I’m really happy with the way I raced,” she said. “The heat bothered everyone – the conditions weren’t great, but it was still a great experience.”
Watson will now have a short break from competition before the high school cross-country season begins in a few weeks. She is entering Grade 12 at KDSS, and will be looking to defend a Bluewater Athletic Association girls championship. Watson and KDSS teammate Cheyenne Hunter finished 1-2 in the BAA finals last year.
“Cross-country OFSAA is the next goal,” she said.
Teammate Alex Morrow of Port Elgin also had a big weekend in Ottawa with top-10 finishes in the 80m hurdles, the 200-m hurdles and long jump.