When the 2020-2021 OUA cross-country season finally gets under way, Laurentian Voyageur sophomore Keon Wallingford should be riding quite the high from year one.
With his university running already completed, Wallingford would represent Canada in syle, racing at the Pan-American Cross-Country Championships in Langford (B.C.) at the end of February.
Covering a hilly eight kilometre course in a time of 27:49, the North Bay native would finish eighth in a field of 29 runners, posting the second fastest Canadian time, behind only Philippe Morneau-Cartier (27:36) of Laval University.
Wallingford benefitted from a strong kick up the final hill, passing the third American runner and cementing his placement, five seconds ahead of both Alex Comerford (USA) and Guido Bustamente (Peru).
A member of the North Bay Legion Track and Field Club, Wallingford was joined at the event by Laurentian teammate Chase Canty, though the latter was forced to withdraw because of a leg injury.
The event, which effectively combined both the Pan American (Pan-Am) and the North American/Central American/Caribbean (NACAC) championships, would see the Canadian juniors place third among Pan-American competitors, and second only to the United States in the NACAC grouping.