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OFSAA 2023 cross country

 Hallman top 10 at OFSAA X-C


   Beavers ninth in novice boys Rams fourth for novice girls


  November 5, 2023


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By Rob J. Ross

UXBRIDGE, Ont. - Tegan Ceccanese had a performance at OFSAA even she could not have imagined.

The Lord Dorchester Beavers runner finished 34th, in the senior women's race of 240 runners, at the OFSAA cross-country championships, November 5, at the Dagmar Ski Resort, near Uxbridge.

Ceccanese was one of several strong results by local athletes on the ski hill trails, including two Dorchester teammates.

Kirk Hallman finished ninth, in the novice boys' race and Ryan Johnson placed 28th, in a junior boys' race, featuring 245 runners

The St. Joseph's Rams novice girls' team was fourth, out of 37 teams, led by Alex Fangeant and Abi Faris, who finished 53rd and 55th respectively.

St. Joe's Mohanad Kuhail, finished fourth overall in the para race and was the Ambulatory division male winner.

Ceccanese surprised herself with her result in the six kilometer race, crossing the finish line in 25 minutes and 29.33 seconds (25:29.33).

"It's amazing. I surpassed what I thought I could do," said Ceccanese. "I was hoping top 70 and secretly wishing top 50. I managed to do better than both of those which is crazy to me."

The course featured a sharp left turn a few hundred meters into the race and several hills, nine bigger than the massive one only the seniors had to tackle.

"It was definitely a tough race mentally, especially at the start. I didn't get out well, so I was 52nd, or 53rd in the first kilometer, so I had to really push myself to get up to where I needed to be," said Ceccansese. "In the moment I wasn't a fan of the course. The one hill was so tremendous. The biggest hill I've race on. Looking back now, the hills, since I'm a tougher runner, were actually to my advantage, because that's where I could pass runners and gain more ground on people."

Ceccanese improved her positioning throughout the race, but never knew her exact number until the end.

"I just knew the finish was close and I had to bring it in strong, to say I had a strong race at OFSAA," said Ceccansese. "It was beyond what I thought I could do. My training had paid off. Mr. Tennant's (Dorchester coach James Tennant) training definitely helped me."

In 2019, Ceccanese qualified for OFSAA, as a member of Dorchester's novice girls' team with Hannah McIntyre, Jenna Wideman, Devin Dance, Nicola Hammond and Allie Humphries. However, Ceccanese did not attend due to a previous planned trip.

Hallman completed the novice four kilometer course in 14:49.40, for a top 10 result, in a race with 251 runners.

"I thought I finished 11th. At the end I was really battling because I knew I was near that border," Hallman said. "The accomplishment of making it to OFSAA is amazing. But to do well, I'm very happy. It was a great experience."

It was the biggest race for the runner from Thorndale.

"This is the most people I've ever raced against and all of them being very quality athletes. I was nervous going in," said Hallman. "It was a huge swarm at the start and I had the third most outside lane, so I had to work really hard to get to the front of the pack. I did a good job, because I got to where I wanted to be eventually. It was chaotic."

A goal of challenging Jacob Jansen remains for Hallman. Jansen, a local rival, from London Aquinas, placed fifth, 14:36.89.

Johnson completed the five-kilometer junior course in 17:30.21, less than a minute out of the top 10. With 245 runners in his race, Johnson finished in the top 11 per cent of the field.

"It's the greatest race so far of my life. It was a lot of fun," said Johnson, also from Thorndale. "I had a great start. My competitor Jonah (Larivire, of Startford St. Mike's) was quick off the start, so I just followed him and when we made the turn, we were at the front of the pack. Hills were deadly, but it was a great race. I'm happy with how I ran."

Dorchester's Fernando Medina, finished 105th, in the junior boys race.

St. Joe's was the only girls team, from any division, to have five runners place in the top 100.

"I'm proud of our team. We came as a team and been practising as a team," Faris said. "When you put the hard work in you will gain something. We put in all that work."

Following the footsteps of Fangeat and Faris, Sadie Dowswell, 78th, Clara Lascelles, 79th, and Flourish Nmor, 96th, in a race featuring 243 paticipants.

"Probably the best I've ever ran. I don't love running in general, but it was fun," Fangeat. "We can do anything we put our minds to, because there were times I wanted to start walking, because I was in so much pain, but I never did and I end up finishing with my best race of the season."

Kuhail will remember not only his race at OFSAA, but this season, his first year running, for a long time.

"This was really something amazing," the Grade 10 student said. "Growing up I was discouraged from doing sports, because of my medical condition and my arm. Then I really felt, how long am I going to shy away from sports? How long am I going to stay in the shadows? I always like watching sports, rather than playing."

This season Kuhail stepped out from the shadows to join the Rams cross-country team. Instead of competing in the para division, Kuhail ran as a junior, including at WOSSAA.

"That was a tough race. I didn't do quite as good as I wanted too," Kuhail said. "I felt sad it was over. Then my coaches told me, because I challenged myself and put in the effort going into the junior division, there was a rule I could to OFSAA (for the para event)."

Kuhail adds training with the Rams junior boys team helped him throughout the season.

"I was uplifted by them and their own ambitions," Kuhail said.

Jackson Tomassen, of St. Joe's, was 10th overall, in the para race, followed by teammate Diego Alban-Gasca, in 11th.






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