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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Sunday, Jun. 16, 2019
Rain holds off for thousands of elementary runners
by Randy Pascal

If space permitted, it would be wonderful to be able to list out the names of each and every one of the elementary students who participated in the 10th Annual L.U. Cross Country Challenge on Tuesday.

Truth be told, all 1800+ (more than 2300 athletes, if you include the afternoon high school runners) should be understandably proud of simply putting in the effort to partake in this physical activity that might well be the largest single gathering of young athletes, during the year, in the city.

Inevitably, however, our focus shifts to those near the front of their respective races. Looking back over the past decade, there are countless examples of youngsters who have continued to progress through high school and beyond, the 2011 event (for example) featuring four race winners who now strut their stuff in the OUA varsity ranks: Jaclyn Groom, Jacxsen Cress, Myla McCormick and Noah LaPierre.

There are other examples where the elementary sports scene might have been the very pinnacle of the athletic accomplishments of some of these pre-teen talents. The reality is that we just don't know how the top-end harriers in grades three to eight will evolve over time.

Still, it should be fun to follow.

Eleven year old Lucia Salmaso of Félix Ricard is already a known commodity within the adult running circles in Sudbury, posting very impressive 5 km times, in spite of her youth. In that sense, her victory in the grade 5/6 girls competition was hardly a shock.

Salmaso has competed in 10 km distances and began triathlon training this summer with the local Triple Threat group. She also has a clear race strategy in mind long before the gun ever sounds. “I start by sprinting and I make sure I am in front of the pack,” she said.

“Then I give myself a pace and I keep that pace. If I hear people breathing hard or stomping feet, then I pick it up a little bit so that I keep myself in front of the pack. At the end, there's usually a specific time when I do a full sprint. Today, I started sprinting at the second big pole (behind the far stands).”

Just days shy of his tenth birthday, St James grade five multi sport athlete Caleb Mead was not nearly as certain of a top of the standings finish. “I thought I was going to finish fifth,” he conceded, after the race. “When I was in grade three for the grade 3/4 boys race, I finished sixth, so I thought I would be around there, because there would be the same runners and stuff.”

One of the most gifted snipers on his Sudbury Rockhounds' lacrosse team, and an avid hockey player to boot, Mead took a very different approach to his race than did Salmaso. “I like to get near the front, but not first, because then you get out of breath and a bunch of people pass you,” he said. “I was around fifth going off the grass.”

“Then I passed the first two guys and I passed another person, but then it took me a while to pass the other guy. About halfway through the race, I was up front for the rest of the time.” Nine year old Lorelai vanDrunen set the tone for the high flyers, capturing the first race of the day, the grade four student at Ecole catholique Jean-Paul II comfortably ahead of the grade 3/4 girls field.

“I had an idea that I might be in the top ten, because last year was my first chance and I got 11th place,” explained vanDrunen. “The reason I was going so far ahead is because I have lots of stamina, because we go mountain biking a lot at my house.”

And once the race is underway, the talkative young lady taps into a motivational technique in helping to keep her mind occupied. “I usually sing a little song in my head,” said vanDrunen. “One of my dad's favourite songs is “Forever Young”, so I started singing that. It helps me remember my dad while I am running.”

Grade 3/4 race champion Carson Jewitt (MacLeod Public School) wasn't about to do any singing. Simply avoiding exhaustion was plenty enough to focus on for the first time partipant in the Challenge. “I started and I was kind of like in third,” said Jewitt.

“My friend who is on my hockey team (Sudbury Minor Atom “AA” Wolves), Dominic D'Angelo, he was just in front of me, so me and him passed the kid who was in first. We were tied for two minutes and then we went down this hill and I saw all of the MacLeod kids watching me, so then I just ran my hardest.”

“I got the lead by a little bit,” Jewitt continued. “I kept going farther and farther and farther and I didn't think I could do it, because I was out of breath. I thought I was going to be swept away.” In the end, Jewitt and D'Angelo were sandwiched around second place finisher Blake Chenier from Jean-Paul II.

The North Bay Legion Track Club was front and center in the girls 7/8 race, sweeping the top three positions as Kate Pauli (12:01) and twins Michelle Pilon (12:23) and Mia Pilon (12:38) showed the way. The top local competitor was previous race winner Kelly Clark of Ste Marie (12:43), just ahead of the Lo-Ellen tandem of Syla Swords and Sophia Oomen.

The Nickel City Hockey Association must be doing something right when it comes to the off-ice training for the bantam hockey talent. A trio of Sons dominated the podium in the boys grade 7/8 event, with Valley View Public School twins Carson and Kohen Crane grabbing first and third place respectively, and long-time teammate Alex Pharand (Alliance St-Joseph) squeezing directly in between the two.

Following is a breakdown of the top ten in each of the six elementary races that were contested on Tuesday:

Girls - Grade 3/4
1st - Lorelai vanDrunen (Jean Paul II) - 9:00
2nd - Adrielle Charette (St Denis) - 9:12
3rd - Megan Pineau (R.L. Beattie) - 9:12
4th - Reece Chaumont (Holy Cross) - 9:18
5th - Brianne Portelance (St Augustin) - 9:24
6th - Alexa Labrecque (St Denis) - 9:30
7th - Alissa Timusk (R.L. Beattie) - 9:32
8th - Emilie Valade (Jean Paul II) - 9:43
9th - Abbeygale Dagostino (St Augustin) - 9:43
10th - Abby D'Aloisio (MacLeod) - 9:44

Boys - Grade 3/4
1st - Carson Jewitt (MacLeod) - 8:11
2nd - Blake Chenier (Jean Paul II) - 8:20
3rd - Dominic D'Angelo (Holy Cross) - 8:25
4th - Kyle Buckland (St Augustin) - 8:26
5th - Maxime Belzile (Hélène Gravel) - 8:29
6th - Lex Gorval (Alliance St Joseph) - 8:30
7th - Tyler Huffman (Alliance St Joseph) - 8:32
8th - Benjamin Lamarche (St Paul) - 8:34
9th - Robert Landry (Hélène Gravel) - 8:36
10th - Rory Paquette (MacLeod) - 8:43

Girls - Grade 5/6
1st - Lucia Salmaso (Félix Ricard) - 8:04
2nd - Elsa Blum (St James) - 8:13
3rd - Monique Fitzmaurice (R.L. Beattie) - 8:15
4th - Savannah Swords (R.L. Beattie) - 8:30
5th - Kalia Pharand (Alliance St Joseph) - 8:50
6th - Gracie Dale (R.L. Beattie) - 8:51
7th - Iris Maskevich (St Francis) - 8:52
8th - Gabrielle Gallagher (Jean Paul II) - 8:52
9th - Mackenzie Coufal (St James) - 9:03
10th - Gabrielle Foreshew (Ste Marie) - 9:06

Boys - Grade 5/6
1st - Caleb Mead (St James) - 7:31
2nd - Adam Urso (Holy Trinity) - 7:42
3rd - Hudson Crowder (R.L. Beattie) - 7:46
4th - Liam Nootchtai (St James) - 7:51
5th - Sullivan Smith (Holy Cross) - 7:56
6th - Mason Walker (Holy Trinity) - 8:00
7th - Bryson Villeneuve (Notre Dame) - 8:03
8th - Anthony Bertrand (St Anne) - 8:11
9th - Lyle Gorval (Alliance St Joseph) - 8:13
10th - Max Portelance (St Augustin) - 8:14

Girls - Grade 7/8
1st - Kate Pauli (NBLTC) - 12:01
2nd - Michelle Pilon (NBLTC) - 12:23
3rd - Mia Pilon (NBLTC) - 12:38
4th - Kelly Clark (Ste Marie) - 12:43
5th - Syla Swords (R.L. Beattie) - 12:49
6th - Sophia Oomen (Lo-Ellen) - 12:50
7th - Addison Davis (Franco Nord) - 13:17
8th - Gabby Alexander (Lo-Ellen) - 13:20
9th - Mikayla Fabbro (Lo-Ellen) - 13:26
10th - Kelsey Adams (Roland Michener) - 13:27

Boys - Grade 7/8
1st - Carson Crane (Valley View) - 10:50
2nd - Alex Pharand (Alliance St Joseph) - 11:06
3rd - Kohen Crane (Valley View) - 11:17
4th - Kaedan Ward (Lo-Ellen) - 11:25
5th - Abdallah Koulbou (Lo-Ellen) - 11:31
6th - Adam Chebbi (Lo-Ellen) - 11:35
7th - Braydon Ethier-Perras (Valley View) - 11:54
8th - Noah Lachance (Découverte) - 11:59
9th - Nolan Kuhlberg (Lo-Ellen) - 11:59
10th - Blake Rosener (St Charles) - 12:00

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