By Dan Plouffe
Isabelle Weidemann is starting to show she’s almost as fast on land as she is on ice. The Grade 11 Colonel By Secondary School kept pace with senior girls’ champion Lindsay Kary through much of the 5 km Hornets Nest course to win silver at the east conference cross-country running championships Wednesday.
“I didn’t think I was going to do that well,” acknowledges Weidemann, who finished within about three soccer fields of the St. Matthew Catholic High School star in a time of 21 minutes, 37.78 seconds. “I didn’t expect to be that close to Lindsay anyhow, so that was cool.”
This past summer, Weidemann started devoting a little more energy to running by joining the Ottawa Lions club, and now she’s looking forward to the possibility of competing in her first OFSAA cross-country championships after missing the last two in favour of speed skating meets.
“Our team is looking really, really good,” notes Weidemann, whose Cougars easily captured the senior girls’ title with 24 placement points ahead of Béatreice-Desloges’ 57. “I love my team. They’re so much fun. We push each other in training a lot and we always run together.”
While she’s found some success in running, the main reason Weidemann competes is that it helps her prepare for the speed skating season, which begins this weekend with an Ontario Cup short-track event in Cambridge.
“I find running definitely helps speed skating a lot,” Weidemann explains, highlighting the benefits of a fast tempo, hill training for strength, and increased endurance.
The Gloucester Concordes’ athlete emerged as one of the country’s top young speed skaters by placing fourth in the women’s 3,000 m long-track event against competitors up to four years older than her at the highly-competitive Canada Winter Games early in 2011.
“It was really surprising. I didn’t see that coming at all. I thought I’d do well, but I was racing against a lot of really, really good girls,” Weidemann recalls. “I was kind of debating between short-track and longtrack, and Canada Winter Games definitely made me a long-tracker.”
The result also opened the 16-year-old’s eyes to the fact that she may really have a future career as a speed skater ahead of her.
“I think next year I’d like to qualify for junior worlds,” adds Weidemann, whose long-track competitions won’t begin until the end of November. “I’d like to do it this year – it probably won’t happen, but it’s a good goal.”
KARY ROUNDING INTO FORM
Kary, who finished 13th at last year’s OFSAA in the junior girls’ class, won the senior girls’ race in 20:36.78.
“I think it went pretty good,” says Kary, who was pleased to see her time improve compared to a race five days earlier on the same course for the pre-OFSAA meet. “I just want to run my hardest and keep improving time-wise this year. For place, we’ll see what happens.”
The Grade 11 St. Matt’s student ran at the Hornets Nest for the third time this season at the east meet, and she’ll get to try out the OFSAA venue once more at next Thursday’s national capital championships before the big show on Nov. 5.
“Hopefully I make it and nothing goes bad in the next couple of weeks,” Kary adds. “It’s close to my house, so it’s really cool to have it in town this year. “I really like running here, except for the hill – that’s kind of tough.”
After days of rain, the wet Hornets Nest course made for some slick conditions on the back woods trails in particular.
“I’m really happy about having both my shoes,” Kary smiles. “It was really muddy at the back part of the race.”
COUGARS OWN SENIOR BOYS’ PODIUM
Adam Richardson, Sebastian Saville, and Felix Zhu finished 1-2-3 all within a minute of one another in the senior boys’ race and showed that cross-country running isn’t entirely an individual sport by running side-by-side for the majority of the 7 km course.
“For sure it’s a bit more of a team thing for us,” Zhu says, noting their team bond is even stronger after training together during the summer with the Lions. “It was a pretty fun race. We stuck together and it was good to be able to run with teammates.”
It’s useful to have several top athletes on the same team to push each other in training and in races, Zhu explains, and he hopes that will lead them to an appearance at the home provincials competition just down the road from their Ogilvie Road school.
“There wasn’t much competition in the east, but there’s a lot of good runners in the west,” adds Zhu, who finished in 27:13.22. “Qualifying for OFSAA is our main goal.”
BÉATRICE-DESLOGES EMERGES AT MEET
Béatrice-Desloges showed that they may be ready to join the ranks of the city’s top cross-country schools by sharing the overall east conference title with Colonel By at the meet and winning the girls’ aggregate title.
BD won junior girls, was second in senior girls, and fourth in midget girls, while Colonel By’s first in senior boys and second in junior boys lifted them to the boys’ aggregate title despite not having a full midget team.
Canterbury topped the midget girls’ standings, Béatrice-Desloges was first in midget boys and Immaculata won the junior boys’ competition, while Canterbury’s Lia Codrington (midget girls), Lisgar’s Sam Kinahan (midget boys), and Garneau’s Maggie Scheunert (junior girls) were other individual champions.
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