On Saturday, November 4th, Petawawa welcomed over 1000 Ontario high school runners for the OFSAA Provincial Cross Country Championships at the military base golf course, under cool +3'C temps, but the hilly and challenging course was dry and the wind was calm.
To qualify for the most competitive high school race in Canada, the "Road to OFSAA" begins with athletes competing in their local high school championship race. The next week they compete in 1 of 19 regional cross country meets where they had to be in the top 5 individuals or be on 1 of the top 2 teams. Those athletes then advance to OFSAA. Race starting line positions are assigned based on your Regional meet position. If you placed 4th overall at Regionals, you would be in the 4th row of 5 of athletes. Teams were also arranged the same, with the top team member getting a front row spot while the 5 team member would be in the 5 row. Each Region is randomly assigned a 3 spots across the starting line, 1 for individuals and 2 for the two teams. So there are 19 Regions with 3 spots across the starting line [57 rows] with 5 athletes deep, equalling about 285 runners in each race.
The Meaford Coyotes Track Club had 3 very talented runners qualify. Olivia Karn is a grade 9 Coldwater student, representing the Orillia Nighthawks. Ethan Pentland is a grade 9 Durham student representing John Diefenbaker High School. Spencer Book of Meaford is a grade 10 student representing the GBCS Thunder.
Olivia Karn started the day in the grade 9 Midget Girls 4.24km race. She was 4th at the GBSSA Regional Meet and was in the 3rd row of athletes, placed right in the middle of the pack. Almost the worst position you could possibly have. The gun went off and the herd of athletes collapsed to the middle of the field and she was swallowed up in the mass, like a fish net of sardines flopping around. She worked her way through the mass of runners, picking them off 1 at a time. Hoping for a better showing, she finished an impressive 86th in a field of 259 runners.
Ethan Pentland won his Regional CWOSSA race and was right in the middle of the front row at the start of the grade 9 Midget Boys 4.24km race. He had a great start and was in the top 20 after the 300m massive sprint over and down the first hill and through the tight "dog-leg" turn to squeeze the herd even closer together. His aggressive pace moved him up to 11th spot with only 600m left and he won his finishing sprint to the line to place 9th spot in a field of 265 athletes. He was only 19 seconds back from the winner.
Spencer Book was 5th at CWOSSA's last week and lined up in the 5th row on the outside 18th row against the fence. Not a great spot to be either. As the gun went off, the pack narrowed to the middle and he was able to sneak around the outside of the pack, through the "dog-leg" narrowed section and be in the mass of runners about 30 seconds off the leaders after the first 800m. His very fast start caught up with him a bit in the back part of the race, but hung tough. He still worked his way through the pack and worked through the tough hilly back-1/2 of the race to gain a few more spots. Spencer cross the line 71st of 270 competitors, just under 2 minutes back of the leader.
Olivia, Ethan and Spencer will join their Coyote teammates November 12th in Bracebridge for Athletics Ontario Cross Country Championships, the last race of their season.
From Bluewater Athletics, Emily Bryce of Saugeen District Secondary School finished 5th in the Midget Girls division while
Daniel Khan (SDSS) 29th and Liam Fitzgerald (KDSS) 40th competed in the Junior Boys race at OFSAA.