SDSSAA cross-country runners
waited two full years to experience the OFSAA feeling
once again, with the provincial races contested this past
weekend in Peterborough.
The Lo-Ellen Park Knights junior boys
- well, they were experiencing something not seen in these
parts in the past twnety to twenty-five years.
The squad of Sam Rice (8th), Owen Dobson
(18th), Nolan Kuhlberg (28th) and Jacob Barney (31st)
securing gold in the OFSAA Junior Boys team event, the
LOE total of 85 points well ahead of both Upper Canada
College (119) and Dundas Valley Secondary School (137).
At a glance, it would appear that on average,
entries were down to about 60%-70% of normal standards,
with the typical field of 250 or so runners in each age
bracket numbering closer to the 160 athlete range in these
Still, in spite of this, there is no denying
the influx of very talented distance runners being felt
on a local level. Top ten, top twenty, top half of the
field performances could be found around each and every
It was a pair of
girls' groupings that offered the next best high-end
results, on the heels of the junior boys victory,
as Lucia Salmaso (8th) of Marymount and Lo-Ellen
freshman Monique Fitzmaurice (13th) were up with
the very best in Ontario in the Novice girls classification.
Gracie Dale of Lo-Ellen
Park was also within earshot at 27th.
The depth of talent across the north was
evident one age group higher as SDSSAA place no less than
seven junior girls in the top 80 of the field in a category
in which Manitoulin Secondary finished first (NOSSA champion
Maren Kasunich won bronze at OFSAA) and the Lo-Ellen quartet
Lauren Pineau (6th - Lockerby), Georgia
Lepage (15th - St Benedict), Isabel McKague (LOE - 35th),
Bay Jones (45th - Lockerby) and the Knights' trio of Grace
Thomas (58th), Lara Makela (66th) and Finlay Cuza (73rd)
all showed well in their first OFSAA appearance.
With the Sudbury top tandem of Nicho Labrecque
and Adam Urso away for hockey, it was Lo-Ellen novice
Hudson Crowder who would lead the local boys, placing
62nd, with teammate Benjamin Pearce not all that far behind
Though the Lo-Ellen junior lads were the
story of their age group, from a Sudbury and area perspective,
they had plenty of company in the top eighty, with the
Lockerby Vikings' duo of Liam Binks (26th) and James Bertrim
(36th) in hot pursuit, and Russell Joiner (77th - LOE)
and Callum Baron (80th - LCS) just a little further back.
As many SDSSAA alumni can readily attest,
the challenge to hold lofty positions only grows increasing
harder over time, as Kaedan Ward (40th - LOE) and Owen
Roney (50th - LCS) the top local senior boys.
Brandon Radey of Lasalle Secondary came
in exactly at spot # 80.
On the senior girls side, only Sarah Lanthier
(70th - LOE) and Avery Sutherland (77th - LOE) did better.
"One thing that we've been fortunate
with is that most of our athletes buy-in and believe what
we are saying," noted Lo-Ellen head coach Colin Ward,
assisted this year by Neil Phipps, Camille Dupuis, Erin
Ferguson and Zach Beamish.
"It is difficult to travel and perform,"
Ward continued. "The ability to control oneself and
to control the controllable variables sets the stage for
greate performances when it counts."
"Most runners on our team nailed
it; most runners had their best run of the year. That
is what we are most proud of."