With how successful the Muskie cross-country team has been so far this season, it's no wonder they're ready for a new challenge.
After blowing away their NorWOSSA counterparts last Thursday at the Evergreen Classic in Kenora, when each runner posted a season-best pace time in their various races and the squad achieved multiple top-three finishes, the black-and-gold are gearing up for tomorrow's “Turkey Trot” meet in Dryden.
Muskie head coach John Dutton is expecting some challenging conditions for his contingent at the course in Dryden.
“The Dryden course is different from anything else we encounter during our season,” he noted.
"There is a real mix of terrain—everything from narrow muddy paths to beach sand, swampy muskeg to dense bush—not to mention lots of difficult turns and challenging hills.
“But this is the first course that has a number of sections that are too narrow to pass other runners,” Dutton added.
“And athletes can get backed up if they're not careful.”
To prepare for what they might face tomorrow, Dutton noted his charges would be running hills and intervals in practice both Monday and yesterday.
“Dryden hills are always a challenge but our interval practice is a high-intensity sprint practice,” he explained.
"We will do lots of breakouts, passing drills, and partner challenge runs.
“We practice varying pace to allow the runners to break out quickly and take advantage of more open areas of the course to pass other runners,” he added.
“With a narrow running path like we will encounter in Dryden, it is crucial to get out quickly and establish position early,” Dutton stressed.
“We will be ready for Thursday,” he vowed.
As for last Thursday's meet in Kenora, the Muskies proved their mettle against the likes of the host Broncos, St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora), Dryden Eagles, Red Lake Rams, and Sioux Lookout Warriors.
The junior girls' squad, who ran to a first-place finish in Thunder Bay the previous week, actually competed in the senior girls' 5.4-km race in Kenora.
Greta Fedoruk topped the black-and-gold with a first-place showing, clocking in with a time of 24:47.
She was followed by Jaida Norris (24:54) and Tori Toriseva (25:19) for a podium sweep.
Grace Kowal wound up in ninth place (29:30) while Alacea Yerxa was 11th (40:25).
Alexia Gate topped the Grade 7/8 girls' 2K race with a time of 8:07.
She was followed by Maddy Bliss in third (8:51), Kiera Fairnington in ninth (9:30), and Monica Ruppenstein in 10th (9:36), with Parker Boyd winding up in 17th spot (12:11).
Other Muskie standouts included James Furlong, who claimed gold in the junior boys' 5.4-km race (21:50).
Caden McInnes had the best showing for Fort High in the Grade 7/8 boy's 2K, finishing fifth with a time of 8:24.
He was followed by Thre Windigo (8:31) while Jackson Marchant was 11th (9:25) and Joel Calder was 17th (12:28).
Leah Seguin ran to a silver finish in the junior girls' 3.6-km race (15:45) even though she is only in Grade 8.
Emma Toriseva was fourth (15:54), followed by Montana Plasky in fifth (16:25) and Lillian McKenzie in 10th (21:27).
Ben Olson topped the Muskies in the senior boys' 7.2-km by placing seventh (34:28).
Romeo Deafy finished in 10th (41:26).
“Half of Kenora's cross-country course is very muddy and rocky, with lots of challenging hills,” Dutton recalled.
“One of our main goals this season has been to improve our hill running,” he added.
"All of our athletes train really hard every practice but hill workouts are truly a pleasure to watch.
“It's the toughest 60 minutes of the week and nobody lets up—even for a minute,” Dutton enthused.
“Kenora is a good indicator that their efforts are paying off.”