On Saturday, November 4, the TDSSAA hosted the OFSAA cross-country championships at Centennial Park in Etobicoke. This year marks the 75th year since OFSAA’s inception in 1948, and over the course of its 75 years, OFSAA has proven to be a springboard for individual and team athletic excellence in Ontario. This year over 1,600 hopeful high school athletes were in attendance to put their training to the test.
The Georgian Bay Coyotes had two runners qualify to participate in this sporting event, which is the single largest high school athletic competition in the province: Isabel Spence and Emmett Leary, both Grade 9 students from Meaford’s Georgian Bay Community School. Their teacher coach, Neil Kearns, was pleased and proud to have two members from his cross-country team representing GBCS at such a high calibre race. Both Isabel and Emmett went in with considerable racing experience due to their work with the Coyote club, and they set the bar high for themselves.
Isabel was in the first race of the day. One of her personal goals for the race was to control her pace off the start. Because she placed 5th at the qualifying race, CWOSSA, she was forced to start behind the other four racers from her district, and while this did put her at a disadvantage, she made it work for her. She stuck to her plan and went out at a controlled pace and clawed her way up the pack over the course of her 4km race, even passing two of the racers who had previously beaten her in the qualifier race. Her early energy conservation left her with enough in the tank to put forth a strong finish, crossing the line in an impressive 23rd place, ahead of over 230 other Grade 9 girls.
An hour after Isabel’s impressive race, Emmett Leary lined up with the massive group of 265 Grade 9 boys. Because Emmett placed first at CWOSSA, he was given the front position on the line for our district. Despite this advantage, he got tied up with one of the other racers off the start and got a bit swallowed up by the hoard of runners. He managed to work his way forward, and by the time he was climbing the hill he found himself in 8th position. He took advantage of his hill training and soared over the top, using the downhill portion to lengthen his stride and move up a few more positions. About 1,200m from the end, Emmett had moved into 5th place. The last 600m presented athletes with a ridge to climb, and Emmett took this opportunity to gain ground and then pass the 3rd place athlete. Despite a lead coming off the ridge, the Dundas Valley runner started to kick hard and catch up to Emmett. Digging deep and pushing through the exhaustion, Emmett put forth a final burst of speed and had just enough to stay ahead of his competitor and claim the bronze medal spot.
It was a very successful day of racing for these Coyote runners. Coaches, teachers, and parents are so proud of all the hours of dedication and hard work that culminated in these athletes placing among the top in the province.
To find out more about the team, please visit: www.georgianbaycoyotes.com