John Dutton’s focus wasn’t on the numbers to the left of his team members’ names on the results sheet, but the ones further to the right.
“I don’t know where they placed for sure, and I don’t even care,” the Muskie cross-country running coach said Tuesday shortly after the annual Hial Pike Invitational at the Falls Golf Course.
“They all did very good and I was really pleased, especially coming off of Thanksgiving weekend where they probably all ate too much turkey,” Dutton chuckled.
“We had a lot of personal bests today.”
Captain Jenny Hammond led the Muskie contingent in the girls’ five-km run with an eighth-place finish (21:07) out of 94 entrants that has her confident going into the NWOSSAA championships this coming Wednesday in Thunder Bay.
“I wanted to be in the top 20 today,” noted Hammond.
“I feel like I’m going to place all right next week, hopefully somewhere near the top,” she added.
Lexi Erickson of the host International Falls Broncos won Tuesday’s race going away with a time of 19:22.
Other Muskie results included Sydney Radigan in 45th (23:54), Sydney Beck in 52nd (24:54), Gabi Peters in 58th (25:14), Erin Tomalty in 69th (26:05), Tory Beaudry in 74th (26:22), and Kennedi Handberg in 84th (29:06).
“Based on last year’s times [at NWOSSAA], I think from the times I saw today [Tuesday] we’re going to be competitive as a team and we will have individuals competitive, too,” Dutton predicted.
The Muskie team will need to finish in the top two in the senior girls’ standings in Thunder Bay to qualify for OFSAA on Nov. 7 in Collingwood.
Any individual runner, meanwhile, will have to be among the top four finishers not affiliated with either of the qualifying teams in order to advance.
In the girls’ 3,200m run on Tuesday, Jaida Norris of J.W. Walker School finished seventh (14:39) while Greta Fedoruk of Robert Moore was 14th (15:18) out of 44 runners.
Both also represented the Muskies, whom they have been training with as developmental runners this season.
Meanwhile, seventh-grader Ashlyn Beck of Donald Young School in Emo dashed to a third-place finish in the girls’ 3,200m race (13:45) despite being one of the youngest participants in the Grades 7-9 event.
Beck wore the colours of the Sturgeon Creek Alternative Program Knights, who welcomed her onto the team this year because no other DYS students chose to compete in cross-country.
As for actual SCAP students, Isaac Dykstra led early before holding on for fifth place out of 72 starters in the boys’ 3,200m run (12:13).
Fellow Knights Blake Ferris and Ben Winik finished 24th (13:41) and 63rd (15:52), respectively.
In the girls’ five-km event, Mika Kooistra of SCAP placed 31st (22:52).
But teammate Maddysan Redford was unable to finish the race after twisting her ankle midway through.
Redford, a Grade 9 student, had arrived late for the 3,200m race and instead decided to compete one level above her age group.