Conditions that were among the worst that OFSAA Cross-Country has ever endured was likely at the top of the story list, come Saturday afternoon in Sudbury, though the majority of the pre-race favourites still managed to rise to the top.
Locally, the SDSSAA contingent produced one top-10 finisher, and that from a most unexpected source.
Despite finishing 12 seconds back of Alex Pharand (Collège Notre-Dame) at the city finals, narrowing the gap to just three seconds at the NOSSA Championships in Sault Ste. Marie a week later, Carson Crane picked the ideal time to stage his race of the year.
"I felt really good today, it was probably one of my better days. I'm glad that it happened today," said Crane, the Confederation Chargers' freshman who cracked the provincial top-10, finishing eighth in a time of 14:49, less than a minute back of race winner Erik Unger (Adam Scott Secondary School - Peterborough).
"Looking around, everybody at OFSAA looked really fast, and I was really nervous about that," said Crane. "From the start of the race, I knew that I was close to the 100th place and knew that I had to pass people to get a better finish."
Laurentian varsity cross-country coach Darren Jermyn provided a little perspective on the level of competition that Crane and the remainder of the local representatives would face on the weekend, as more than 1,600 runners invaded Kivi Park.
"Obviously, they are at the top in the province at the high school level, but many of them are top in the country in their age group, and many of them are at the elite level where they compete internationally," he said.
In that sense, experienced OFSAA observers were not terribly surprised that the Sudbury grouping behind Crane would be a little further back: Calum Passi (Lasalle - SB - 37th), Kendyn Mashinter (Lo-Ellen - SB - 39th), Avery Sutherland (Lo-Ellen - JG - 51st), Sophia Oommen (Lo-Ellen - NG - 53rd) and Pharand (CND - NB - 58th).
While all the runners were challenged by the early snowfall, leaving the footing fairly treacherous by the time the senior races rolled around in mid-afternoon, Abbey Juhasz (Resurrection - Kitchener) excelled more than most, carving out a victory by almost a full minute over Petal Palmer (Mother Theresa - Scarborough) as she prepares to head to Tulsa University on a track & field/cross-country scholarship next fall.
"On a personal level, I think it wasn't as challenging for me as it would have been for somebody who is maybe not as experienced," said Juhasz.
"And because I have a really short stride, because my legs are so short, I am pretty agile, so when it comes to tough terrain like that, I think that I fare OK - but it was still a very tough course."
The Lasalle Lancers would enjoy some bragging rights in the Para Division, with both Raiden Byers (7th) and Riley Cornthwaite (9th) finishing in the top quartile of the event that drew a total of 45 competitors.
Following are results of the top three finishers in each race, along with the top three SDSSAA representatives in each race:
Senior Men Division
1st – Mathew Mason (Sir Wilfrid Laurier – London) – 21:12.54
2nd – Scott Arndt (Waterloo) – 21:15.00
3rd – Dakota Goguen (Sir William Mulock – Newmarket) – 21:20.43
37th – Calum Passi (Lasalle) – 22:55.93
39th – Kendyn Mashinter (Lo-Ellen) – 22:57.69
70th – André Larocque (Notre-Dame) – 23:29.63
Senior Women Division
1st – Abbey Juhasz (Resurrection – Kitchener) – 24:25.40
2nd – Petal Palmer (Mother Theresa – Scarborough) – 25:15.54
3rd – Jadyn Keeler (Innisdale – Barrie) – 25:17.41
71st – Meredith Kusnierczyk (Lo-Ellen) – 28:24.28
101st – Delaney Bourget (Lo-Ellen) – 29:17.60
135th – Kristen Mrozewski (Lo-Ellen) – 29:58.62
Junior Men Division
1st – Riley Flemington (Appleby College – Oakville) – 18:17.63
2nd – Heath McAllister (London Central) – 18:39.54
3rd – William Cowling (Uxbridge) – 18:41.16
69th – Patrick Wiss (Lo-Ellen) – 20:30.34
77th – Ian MacKenzie (Confederation) – 20:40.83
102nd – Emmett Thomson (Lasalle) – 21:02.46
Junior Women Division
1st – Sofia Bowe (Etobicoke Arts – Toronto) – 21:28.27
2nd – Sierra Rodrigues (St. Michael CSS – Bolton) – 21:36.42
3rd – Chantal Channing (Orangeville) – 21:37.15
51st – Avery Sutherland (Lo-Ellen) – 23:23.46
114th – Abby Lanteigne (Lockerby) – 24:53.00
162nd – Maggie Parks (Lo-Ellen) – 25:54.72
Novice Men Division
1st – Erik Unger (Adam Scott – Peterborough) – 13:56.14
2nd – Noah Booth (Frontenac – Kingston) – 14:21.97
3rd – Nate Rose (Winston Churchill – St. Catharines) – 14:24.57
8th – Carson Crane (Confederation) – 14:49.22
58th – Adam Chebbi (Lo-Ellen) – 15:39.42
75th – Alex Pharand (Notre-Dame) – 15:56.23
Novice Women Division
1st – Kyla Martin (Joan of Arc – Barrie) – 15:37.09
2nd – Brooklyn Quanz (Saugeen – Port Elgin) – 15:53.04
3rd – Alex Campbell (KCVI – Kingston) – 16:05.24
53rd – Sophia Oommen (Lo-Ellen) – 17:44.37
138th – Gabby Alexander (Lo-Ellen) – 18:59.64
141st - Mia Toner (Sacré Coeur) - 19:06.11
Co-Ed Para Division
1st - Corey McCaugherty (Sydenham) - 13:26.21
2nd - Joshua Roberto (Paul Dwyer SS - Oshawa) - 13:55.31
3rd - Kobe Selman (St. Catharines) - 13:55.89
7th - Raiden Byers (Lasalle) - 15:26.64
9th - Riley Cornthwaite (Lasalle) - 15:44.94
18th - James Butcher (Lasalle) - 17:21.82