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OFSAA X-C 2023

 Rams junior girls fourth at OFSAA X-C


   Dorchester's Kirk Hallman finishes eighth in junior boys


  November 5, 2023


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By Rob J. Ross

ETOBICOKE, Ont. - St. Joseph's Rams junior girls are one of the top teams in the province.

The Rams placed fourth, missing the bronze medal by just two points, at the OFSAA cross country championships November 5 at Centennial Park.

Three junior girls teams were within two points of each other in the bronze medal hunt.

Weldon secondary school from Lindsay, had a combined four runner total of 253 points. St. Joe's and LaSalle Sandwich, tied with 255, but the Rams, took fourth on the tie break, the position of their fifth runner.

These three teams were over 140 points lower then the remainder of the field, another 30 teams. Windsor Holy Names won team gold (115 pts - four in the top 50) and Collingwood Collegiate brought home silver (194).

Abi Faris led the Rams finishing 43rd in the five kilometre  race featuring 260 runners, followed by Flourish Nmor, 50th, Alex Fangeat, 62nd, Claire Caslick, 100th and Sadie Downswell, 169th.

"Honestly we all I think were hoping for a little bit better result, but in the end we all ran a good race," Faris said. "Our team and even the WOSSAA community all did really well."

A year ago, this group of Rams placed fourth as novice girls, therefore the goal was a medal this season.

"Our team had a really good performance and we got a lot closer to third this year than we did last year," Fangeat said. "We all athletes and we know how to push ourselves to extremes, even in training, to where we're like in an uncomfortable position."

The Rams have no club runners, only athletes who also train in other sports. Faris plays soccer and Fangeat is a road and indoor cyclist at the National level, Nmor is in to weight training and does run track , advancing to OFSAA in the 800 metre run this past spring. Caslick plays hockey and Dowswell, hockey and soccer.

"This group of six girls are very committed during the cross country season. They don't miss practice," Rams' coach Annette Barry said. "It certainly helps that they are like a wolf pack and therefore compete and push each other and have competitive streaks in them."

St. Joe's Mohanad Kuhail finished third overall in the four kilometer para race, repeating as the Ambulatory division winner.

"It's so unreal. In my head, I was like, am I going to, am I not? Last year I was just doing it. I didn't expect to win anything because OFSAA is so big. But this year, there's like pressure. Am I going to live up to it," said Kuhail. "The hormone that makes you nervous is the same one that makes you excited, so I just kept tricking my brain by saying I'm excited and I believed it."

Kuhail sprinted pass a runner in the final meters to move up to third place.

"I was feeling a mix of relief and disbelief and I need to sit down," said Kuhail. "And I need Gatorade."

Diego Alban-Gasca was 22nd overall in the para race.

Kirk Hallman finished eighth in the junior boys five K race, leading the Dorchester Beavers team to ninth place, with River Neveu, Spencer Erb, Bennett Thomas and Andrew Shoniker.

Hallman crossed the finish line in 15 minutes and 10.87 seconds, in a race with 270 runners, one position higher than the Thorndale resident was a year ago as a novice.

"Obviously top five would have been nice, but I got a place better than last year so I can't be sad about that," Hallman said. "There was a lot of mix up with the guys in the top 10. Guys who were supposed to win didn't do so well so I'm happy I managed to keep top 10."

Hallman had to overcome fatigue in the stretch heading towards the finish line.

"Final 500 metres was horrible because I could hear people behind me coming up," said Hallman. "I was really running out of gas, but at the same time I was trying to catch some people. It was really a game of survival."

The ski hill was a challenge but so was the down hill side along a gravel lane.

"Making it up the hill and then having to go up another hill at the top there and then having to run on gravel was the hardest," Hallman said. "That just takes out your legs because you can't even recover on the downhill."

Neveu finished 132nd, Thomas, 138th, Erb, 150th and Shoniker, 175th.

The St. Joe's senior boys team placed 12th, with Fowler Little leading the way in the six kilometre race featuring 275 runners, finishing 93rd. Ty Emre followed in 96th, Connor Crosby, 125th, Lucas Skirtschak, 193rd and Noah Bakker, 207th.

Ian McAllister, from London Central, won the senior boys race in 18 minutes and 21.69 seconds, with Central placing second in the team standings.


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