A season's worth of hard work and dedication paid off for eight members of the Muskie cross-country team as they took part in the OFSAA championships in Hamilton on Saturday.
Although none of them were able to add a provincial title to their already-impressive season, head coach John Dutton believes his runners will be able to use their experience at the all-Ontarios in various areas of athletics moving forward.
“Reaching OFSAA is just the first hurdle in their athletic development," he noted. ”There are many more hurdles that they would like to clear.
"These athletes trained for a mere eight weeks in preparation for Hamilton and clearly earned their spots among the province's best.
“But all of the talk, long before we got on the plane to fly home, was about next steps,” Dutton added.
“We know as a team, excellence on the track depends on many things, but above all we need continuity,” he remarked.
"These athletes have attained a high level of fitness that they hope to maintain year-round through an on-going running program, and hopefully through adding participation on the [Muskie] track team this spring.
“Even as they pursue their other roles as figure skaters, hockey players, volleyball players, and cross-country skiers, they plan to maintain a running program that will carry them through to next cross-country season,” Dutton noted.
The Muskies capped a banner season with a solid showing at the all-Ontarios on Saturday.
As a team, the junior girls' squad finished 25th out of 38 schools with a combined time of 1:36:34—good enough for a score of 655 points.
Glebe CI (Ottawa) finished first (1:24:03 for 148 points), Leaside HS (Toronto) nabbed silver (1:24:57 for 197 points), and ES Catholique Theriault (Timmins) wound up with bronze (1:27:57 for 268 points).
Individually, the Muskies were led by Greta Fedoruk, who finished 100th with a time of 22:30.
She was followed by Ashlyn Beck in 135th (23:23.2), Jaida Norris in 173rd (24:08.2), and Grace Kowal in 247th (26:32).
In the Midget girls' division, Emma Toriseva led the Muskie contingent in finishing 164th (19:22.3).
Montana Plasky was the other Muskie in that race, winding up in 175th (19:29.3).
Tori Toriseva was the lone Muskie in the senior girls' race, placing 226th (30:38.9).
In the junior boys' division, James Furlong rounded out the Muskie reps with a 255th-place finish (22:34).
“I couldn't be more proud of what these athletes have accomplished this season," Dutton enthused. ”They all worked hard to earn their OFSAA spots, and they all represented themselves and Fort Frances High School well.
“I know they would have liked to see some higher placings in their races, but looking at everything in perspective they are pretty happy with the results, as am I,” he added.
Dutton said the biggest challenge the Muskies face at OFSAA each year is the sheer number of runners who compete in the southern part of the province.
“Many of our competitors face 250-300 challengers at their qualifying meets and have the opportunity to face this kind of competition throughout their season,” he noted.