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  Knelsen in OFSAA top 10 per cent


     The East Elgin Eagle beats runners who had finished ahead of her


     Saturday, November 4, 2017




By Rob J. Ross

PETAWAWA, ON. - Hallee Knelsen is among the top 10 per cent for high school midget girls cross country in the province.

The East Elgin Eagle finished 26th, in the midget girls' four-kilometre race, featuring 259 runners, at the OFSAA cross country championships, held at the Petawawa Golf Club.

"Once I started, there were a few girls who went way ahead. I knew I wouldn't get first, but I knew I could stay up there. I went out about the same as I have been going out. It was chaotic and cold (at the start line)," Knelsen said.  "Overall I ran very well. All of the girls I have been racing (at previous meets) I have beat them now.

"I was excited because the one girl who beat me at the Springwater Invitational (Lily Pattinson, of Windsor Riverside, the race winner), I passed her right before the finish line."

Knelsen also finished ahead of London Central's Elysse Fleming and Jalen Marcil, who were 1-2 at the WOSSAA meet, October 26. Knelsen was third.

After recovering from an injury in early September, Knelsen kept getting stronger as the season progressed.

See complete results at OFSAA X-C.

Arielle Aitken Guignard, of St. Joseph's, placed 114th, in the same race.

"At the beginning I got boxed in, so it was hard to get out of that," said Aitken Guignard. "I felt good the first lap, but the second lap, I didn't feel so good, but I made it through. I tried to go faster, but the hills were hard."

"I felt bad for the seniors, because they had more hills."

The St. Joseph's Rams' senior girls' team of Kyleigh Stubbs, Jocelyn Delgado, Grace Gillet, Kaila Novak and Alyce McLean, placed 24th.

Delgado led the Rams over the six kilometre course, finishing 111th, in a field with 271 runners.

"That last hill really took a toll on me and it was hard to have a strong finish," said Delgado. "I've been doing better each race, so it's nice to finish here."

The biggest hill had a steep incline of 50-metres in length to its' summit, and all runners had the joy to experience the trek up twice.

"The course was really tough. We trained for hills all year, but nothing prepares you for seven, eight, nine hills in a row. The 500 metre mark (remaining in the race), you went up two hills, so it was hard to pick it up right at the end," said Stubbs, who placed 176th.

Gillet, who placed 189th, worked the hills to her advantage.

"The hills helped me, because I passed a lot of girls on the hills," Gillet said. "Coming here (OFSAA) for the first time is eye opening. It was a really fast race compared to our (previous) races. Everyone went out fast and I kind of panicked, but I kept relaxed."

Novak, a 15-year old junior, moved up to the senior team prior to the Thames Valley Regional championship meet.

"It was a bigger challenge and I was excited about that. I heard some horror stories about OFSAA, so I was scared coming in, but I was excited, as these are the best runners in Ontario. I was really happy to be a part of that. OFSAA is a big achievement," said Novak, who finished 176th. "At the start, everybody ran out really quickly so I was panicking, but then I settled into my race pace and just kept passing one person at a time. That was one of the best races I've had. The course was difficult, but it was fun."

Novak, a member of Canada's under-17 women's soccer team and with London FC, added the race was more exhausting then a soccer match.

"I play soccer too, but I have to say how tired I was after OFSAA does not compare to a national game, because there are no breaks. You just run non stop."

McLean was 227th.

St. Joe's' senior girls were at OFSAA for the second consecutive year.

"We were able to bond a lot through the entire year and this was a combination of all that," said Stubbs. "It was nice for everybody to experience this as a team. It can be hard as an individual and knowing you have the whole team with you no matter how you finish is really nice."

Connor Erb, of Lord Dorchester, was 74th out of 265, in the midget boys' four kilometre race.