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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
An interesting mix at L.U. X-C Challenge
by Randy Pascal

The 2017 edition of the L.U. Elementary Cross Country Challenge contained a little mix of everything: some familiar faces in the winner’s circle, some young athletes making a huge leap forward, and some brand new invitees to the fall tradition.

Kelly Clark already had both a second place finish (senior girls – 2016) and a first place finish (junior girls – 2015) as she entered the Challenge for the fourth time on Tuesday. The 11 year old grade six student at Ste Marie (Azilda) added another piece of hardware to the trophy case, finishing 50 metres or so ahead of Lucia Salmaso of Félix-Ricard.

“At the beginning, I try and just go fast so nobody catches up to me, and then keep my pace,” noted Clark, also keeping busy as a defenceman with the Nickel City Minor Peewee “AA” Jr Sons this year. “I could hear footsteps behind me in the trails and almost everywhere. I only look back when I turn the corners.”

Squeezed between a pair of Timmins Porcupine runners one year ago, Clark acknowledged that each and every year presents a somewhat unique challenge at the cross country meet hosted on the trails of Laurentian University. “It felt different this year, because there were different people and they were pushing me harder.”

The grade 5 & 6 boys championship would be captured by St John’s Devan Madore, celebrating the victory just a day in advance of his eleventh birthday. Outracing the likes of Nolan Kuhlberg (R.L. Beattie) and Adam Scott (Walden Public), Madore came out of nowhere in winning an LU Elementary race for the first time.

“I think I got 48th one year,” said the forward with the Nickel City Minor Peewee “AAA” Sons. “But I started doing laps around my neighbourhood, just about every day, so I improved a lot. Mostly I did it for hockey, but since cross country was coming up, I did even more for that.”

Because of the fact that he had little experience running with the lead pack, Madore employed a very straight-forward, quite effective strategy in attacking the two kilometer course. “I tried to run as hard as I could the whole time,” he stated succinctly.

“I started in tenth, maybe ninth, and got up to third or fourth, and I thought to myself that I could do better, so I sprinted ahead about halfway through the race,” he added. “My friends were cheering, friends from school, hockey, baseball, so I just kept pushing myself to go further.”

With the race reputation well established in these parts, it’s not the least bit unusual to see out of town contingents join in the fun. In fact, the 2016 meet featured several top five finishers representing the Timmins Porcupine Track Club. This time around, it was the four girl crew donning the colours of the North Bay Legion Track Club that would show particularly well in the Intermediate (grade 7 & 8) girls race, grabbing three of the top five placements.

Leading the way, by a large and impressive margin, was 13 year old Lindsay Fletcher, who has now spent the past three years working out with her local track club. “I’m pretty good at both track and field and cross country, but I prefer track, a little bit, just because I can see where the finish line is in the distance,” said the grade 8 student at W.J. Fricker.

Yesterday’s race actually marked the first time that Fletcher had tackled the trails at Laurentian, though her lack of experience certainly did not affect, in the least, the aggressive approach she would take at the blast of the gun. “I knew there were a lot of girls running, so I tried to get out really fast, almost as fast as I could go, and then recover for a bit after that.”

“I try and take a peek behind me every 800 meters, just to see where they are. If I see they’re pretty close to me, I try and do a little surge, just to pick up speed and get a little more away from them.”

Given the adventure her last race had presented – Fletcher competed at the Algonquin Barons Invitational earlier this month – she noted no issues whatsoever with the course in Sudbury, racing in mid-summer like conditions.

“I thought it was a really good course, because I like running hills,” she said. “I just ran another race last week, and it was mud, grass up to your shoulders, and uphill the whole time, so this was a really nice track.”

Following is a listing of the top five in all six races that were staged Tuesday:

Girls – Grade 3 & 4
1st – Elsa Blum (St James)
2nd – Adrielle Charette (St Denis)
3rd – Mackenzie Coufal (St James)
4th – Amanda Syncox (Holy Cross)
5th – Gabrielle Foreshew (Ste Marie)

Boys – Grade 3 & 4
1st – Caleb Mead (St James)
2nd – Mason Walker (Holy Trinity)
3rd – Alex Lécuyer (Foyer Jeunesse)
4th – Dylan Nelson (Walden Public)
5th – John Corsi (R.L. Beattie)

Girls – Grade 5 & 6
1st – Kelly Clark (Ste Marie)
2nd – Lucia Salmaso (Félix Ricard)
3rd – Isabel McKague (R.L. Beattie)
4th – Lauren Pineau (R.L. Beattie)
5th – Brooklyn Tullio (Carl Nesbitt)

Boys – Grade 5 & 6
1st – Devan Madore (St John)
2nd – Nolan Kuhlberg (R.L. Beattie)
3rd – Adam Scott (Walden Public)
4th – Adam Urso (Holy Trinity)
5th – Max Campbell (Holy Cross)

Girls – Grade 7 & 8
1st – Lindsay Fletcher (NBLTC)
2nd – Alison Symington (Lo-Ellen)
3rd – Amanda Symington (Marymount)
4th – Michelle Pilon (NBLTC)
5th – Kate Pauli (NBLTC)

Boys – Grade 7 & 8
1st – Carson Crane (Valley View)
2nd – Alex Pharand (Alliance St Joseph)
3rd – Brayden Lafrance (Jean-Paul II)
4th – Scott Rienguette (Hélène Gravel)
5th - Noah Brazier (Jean-Paul II)

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