Running like the wind

Take 309 public school students from across the district, turn them loose in the fields and bush around Devlin, and what do you get?
Sometimes some remarkable achievements.
That certainly was the case when the Rainy River District Athletic Association held its annual cross-country championships at Crossroads School last Thursday.
Sixteen schools from all three boards in the district sent their best runners to the annual meet to take on the gruelling 3.2-km course in preparation for the Mid-Canada Cross-country Championships in Thunder Bay.
This was the first year the younger students (Grades 4-6) ran the full course, but it was apparent the extra distance wasn’t too much for them.
Formerly, the junior grades ran a 2-km course, but since the championships will be 3.2-km long, it was decided to present them with the challenge now. And they certainly responded.
“The runners were very well conditioned this year,” said Crossroads principal and RRDAA chair Brian Love.
The course—which runs partly along trails through the thick bush behind the school—has a brutal final 150-m stretch that’s all uphill. In spite of that, Love said the times were consistently faster than in previous years.
“The coaches and teachers did an outstanding job of preparing them,” he noted.
Robert Moore School (Fort Frances) took both Grade 4 events, with Brandon McGinnis winning the boys’ race in a time of 12:32 while Dustin Chiefson and Jason Angus (both of Crossroads) finished second and third, respectively.
In the girls’ race, it was a one-two finish for Robert Moore as Christina Robertson set the standard with a winning time of 14:47. Teammate Sara Sobkowicz was hot on her heels while Kaylee Heyens (Sturgeon Creek) came third.
In the Grade 5 boys’ race, Dirk Friesen (Sturgeon Creek Alternative Program) bested a field of 41 runners while Ryder Woolsey and Brady Heyens (Sturgeon Creek) claimed second and third.
The winning time was not available.
In the Grade 5 girls’ race, Kayla Benjamin gave the host school its first of three victories on the day with a time of 14:04, with Courtney Roach (J.W. Walker) finishing second and Mikaela Kroeker (Sturgeon Creek) taking third.
Keith McTavish gave Crossroads its second victory in the Grade 6 boys’ event with a blistering time of 13:02, followed by Brandon Pratt (Sturgeon Creek) in second and Joe Basaraba (Robert Moore) third.
Carrie Bragg (Sturgeon Creek) was the fleetest of the Grade 6 girls as she finished in a time of 13:27. Mary Savoy (Donald Young) was second, with Taylor Latimer (St. Francis) third.
In the Grade 7 boys’ race, Talbot Johnson (Mine Centre) was the class of the field as he ran the course in an astonishing 11:58. Crossroads runners James Saunders and Ryan Kaemingh were forced to settle for second and third, respectively.
Kelsey Quibell (Sturgeon Creek) took the girls’ Grade 7 race in a time of 15:06, with Laura Richardson (Crossroads) coming second and Brandy Anderson (Riverview) was third.
Richardson’s twin sister, Lindsey, was a scratch because of a twisted ankle, which may have deprived the race of a potential photo finish since the sisters train together and are often neck-and-neck at the finish line.
Mike Sande (J.W. Walker) took the Grade 8 boys’ division while Andrew Friesen and Stefan Cerber (Sturgeon Creek) were second and third, respectively.
The winning time was not available due to some confusion at the finish line because it was decided to the run the boys’ and girls’ races together to save time.
The Grade 8 girls’ race saw a one-two finish for Crossroads as Erin Kaemingh outpaced teammate Rylee Nixon, while Rachel Dutton (Robert Moore) was third.
Again, the winning time was not available.
< *c>Team standings
•Grade 4 boys—1. Crossroads 2. Sturgeon Creek 3. Robert Moore
•Grade 4 girls—1. Crossroads 2. Huffman 3. Riverview
•Grade 5 boys—1. SCAP 2. Sturgeon Creek 3. Crossroads
•Grade 5 girls—1. Crossroads 2. Robert Moore 3. Riverview
•Grade 6 boys—1. Riverview 2. SCAP 3. Crossroads
•Grade 6 girls—1. Crossroads 2. DYS 3. Alberton
•Grade 7 boys—1. Riverview
•Grade 7 girls—1. Atikokan 2. Riverview
•Grade 8 boys—1. Sturgeon Creek 2. SCAP 3. Crossroads
•Grade 8 girls—1. Atikokan 2. St. Francis
Afterwards, Love deemed the meet an unqualified success. “I’m really looking forward to next year,” he enthused.
Love gave special credit to the parent volunteers who helped keep things on track, and especially to four particular Fort High students who volunteered their services as “rabbits” to blaze the trail for the young competitors.
Each of them ran more than 10 km throughout the meet.
“I really, really want to thank Andrew Curr, Austin Zin, Sonja Schulzki, and Sandy Elliot for their work. They did a fantastic job,” said Love.
The Mid-Canada Cross-country Championship, sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion, takes place Oct. 25 at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.