St. Joe's Haggerty, Holder, Belanger and the Coles brothers run away with the
team title at the high school provincial cross country championships
Sunday, November 3, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
SUDBURY, ON. - The St. Joseph's Rams are on top of the provincial cross country mountain.
Aiden Coles, Tristan Coles, Brent Haggerty, Aiden Holder and Harrison Belanger, combined to capture the junior boys' team title, at the OFSAA cross country championships, here at Kivi Park.
Not only was St. Joe's the only school at the meet to score under 100 points, the Rams won by 57 points over second place St. Francis Xavier (FX), from Mississauga.
"I've been dreaming of getting an OFSAA medal for so long," Tristan Coles said. "It was a collective effort, every single person. It helped having everyone's support. We really appreciate it."
It is St. Joe's first OFSAA gold medal in cross country.
"It's crazy," said Aiden Coles, who led the Rams placing eighth in the five kilometre race with 263 runners. "It's all thanks to our coaches and teammates that we run with all season."
Four to five centimetres of snow covered the course and the hills became slick and slushy during the meet. Temperatures were just above zero degrees and there were snowflakes falling for the novice races, warming up to around five Celsius.
"It was slippery," Haggerty said. "The hills were the worst. You were slipping all the time, so you had to keep your feet moving."
While the conditions derailed some runner's hopes of a good race, the Rams seems unaffected.
"We thrived on the weather. I think some kids folded under the weather, but we excelled in it," said Tristan, who finished 19th.
The Rams finish the season undefeated winning every meet entered, including all four invitationals and the Western Ontario (WOSSAA) championships.
"It's a special moment that's for sure. We weren't expecting it," Rams' coach Michelle Massaro said. "We knew they could be in that top five, but we didn't know how close to first. We had our eye on (Toronto) St. Mikes, St. FX and (Toronto) Neil McNeil and then they pulled it out. The goal was get on that podium, but to get on top of it, that's unreal."
Aiden Coles achieved a personal goal of finishing in the top 10.
"Usually I can't stick with those faster guys but I was with them for most of the race," Aiden said. "When I got to the second loop, I felt comfortable to stay with them."
Both Tristan and Haggerty recovered from a start that had them heading in the wrong direction.
A move late in the race gave Haggerty, the Rams' third runner who finished 25th, confidence his team had the gold.
"I saw the second St Mike's guy and I tried to stick on his tail the whole time. Then right at the end, I passed him," said Haggerty. "I was pretty sure we did it."
Holder was 44th, followed by Belanger, in 62nd position.
Riley Flemington, of Oakville Appleby C.I. won the five kilometre race in 18:17.63, 22 seconds ahead of London Central's Heath McAllister.
Including the junior boys' team, St. Joe's had nine runners in total at OFSAA.
"It was awesome having so many in different divisions and supporting each other. That's what our team has been about since the beginning," said Massaro. "All of the kids were unbelievable."
St. Joseph's Cerena Aitken-Guignard finished 46th, in the junior girls' five kilometre race.
"It's an incredible feeling. It's like no other race I've raced in before," Aitken-Guignard said. "It was a lot different than running on grass. I've run in mud before but definitely not snow. I felt it went really well. I got off a bit slow but then I worked my way up slowly."
Will Mantel was 94th, in novice boys. In the three kilometre para race, Diego Alban-Gasca and Gabriel Dala finished 27th and 37th, respectively, overall.
Novice Beavers place 13th
The Lord Dorchester Beavers' novice girls team of Hannah McIntyre, Jenna Wideman, Devin Dance, Nicola Hammond and Allie Humphries, placed 13th. They were without their usual number three runner, Tegan Cessanese.
McIntyre had the Beavers' top result, finishing 44th in the four kilometre race featuring 255 runners.
"It's cool and a good accomplishment," said Wideman. "It was cold and wet and I couldn't feel my toes for a long time. The hills were the worst part. It was hard to stay together as a team. We couldn't find each other."
Dorchester was one of the top single-A schools at OFSAA.
"The girls had tough conditions but made some memories," Dorchester coach James Tennant said. "I was pleased with their commitment and effort."
Entering the season, Dorchester wasn't well known besides McIntyre, in the 800 metre run and Humphries in sprint hurdles, all for track and field, but the Lady Beavers quickly made a name for themselves, by winning two invitational meets, before capturing gold at WOSSAA.
"It was fun and I learned lots," said Wideman, who added she use to run like a dinosaur (lack of arm movement). "Mr. Tennant is a great coach and so is Mrs. Ashby. It was a lot of fun running with the other girls."
East Elgin Eagle Hallee Knelsen was 63rd, in the senior girls' six kilometre race with 270 runners, eight who did not finish.
"Wasn't my best," said Knelsen. "I got off to a tough start where I was definitely in the 200s, and because it narrows so quickly I couldn't move up for awhile. I spent a lot of time trying to get through while people ahead of me were getting further ahead. I'm happy for at least not giving up when I knew I wouldn't be able to catch any frontrunners."
Parkside Stampeders' Mason Basson and Vincent Moore were 41st and 179th, respectively, in the junior boys' race.
Former Mitchell Hepburn Mustang, now attending London Oakridge, Sydney Murdock, finished 28th, in novice girls.
Three other runners from WOSSAA, along with Aiden Coles, had top 10 results.
London Laurier's Mathew Mason had a gold medal run for senior boys. London Central's Mark Royce was seventh in senior boys. Abigail Kraayenbrink, of Wingham Madill, was fifth in senior girls.
Emma Pegg, from Chatham-Kent, a rival of Knelsen's in the 800-metre run during track season, placed seventh, in senior girls.
Next year OFSAA cross country is in London, at the Fanshawe Golf Club.