The University of Waterloo hosted the Pre-OFSAA Cross Country Race on Thursday, October 9th under cool, windy and damp conditions as over two thousand of high school runners competed.
This is one of the largest high school cross country races ever held in Canada and North America. It is also a great "prep" race as the runners will soon enter qualifying races to compete at OFSAA on the same course on Saturday, November 1st.
Several members of the Meaford Coyotes Track Club competed and excelled in the largest fields they have ever experienced. The course had a few relatively small hills, but was overall flat with lots of grass and gravel. The hard part of the race was the start as several hundred runners had to sprint about 100m before the course bottle-necked into an "s-curve" before it opened up. If your start was poor and got boxed in behind several rows of runners, then your chances of a strong performance was poor.
The day for the Coyotes began with grade 9 GBSS student Riley Higgs competing in the Midget Boys race. Riley is relatively new to the team with a strong hockey background. His performance against 424 competitors over the 5029m course was amazing as he crossed the line in 36th spot with a time of 19:17 minutes. Riley has great speed and his endurance continues to grow as each month passes.
There were 486 grade 10 Junior Girls competing over the 4031m course. Jessica Ruest of GBSS had a tremendous race, placing in 85th spot with a strong time of 17:59. She has just recently been able to train consistently so it is exciting to see such a positive performance from her.
The grade 10 Junior Boys had 471 runners competing over 6000m. Sam Nusselder from Saugeen District High School was our top performer in this race as he finished in 38th spot with a solid time of 22:06. Sam was in 6th spot for about the first 1/2 of the race and got a cramp that dropped him well back off the lead. He was able to recover in the last 500m to finish strong. Jake Clarke of Grey Highlands Secondary School has improved significantly this Fall and took 43rd spot as he ran a very strong race, finishing in 22:13.
Our Grade 11-12 Senior Girls had the best overall performances of the day. There were 581 girls on the starting line over the 5029m course. Grace 12 GBSS student Hannah Woodhouse had a tremendous race as she took 1st place over all, with a winning time of 17:55. Grade 12 SDSS student, Jessie Nusselder ran the best race of her life as she cross the line in 12th spot with a time of 19:26. Rose Nadjiwan, a grade 11 Penninsula Shores student, also had a very strong race. She had a rough start and got boxed in, but worked her way through the field and finished in 28th position in 20:16 minutes.
Our two Senior Boys had a massive field of 710 competitors racing 6957m. Grade 12 student Steven Nadjiwan placed 26th overall with a time of 23:34. Steven was actually leading the entire field part way through the first of two laps as he experimented and wanted to see how long he could last. He fell back on the second lap, but finished strong and passed several runners over the last 1km. Jared Ruest has made tremendous improvements over the last couple months with his dedicated training. It is paying off as Jared took 29th spot in 23:44.
This race was a great "test drive" to see where all their hard work has lead them. They should all be extremely proud of their performances against such massive crowds. This was also a great learning experience and hopefully all of them will be back on this course on November 1st as they compete at the high school OFSAA provincial championships.
They will all be competing again on Wednesday, October 15th in Hepworth at the Bluewater District XC meet. On Thursday, October 16th, several of our younger Coyotes will compete at the BWDSB Base Race at the Land Force Training Centre for their District Meet.