See our 2022 NCSSAA XC Championships webpage for more coverage, including race-by-race recaps and photo galleries, in the lead-up to the OFSAA provincials on Nov. 5.
By Martin Cleary
Derek Strachan is preparing for his first final exam in high school cross-country running.
The ultimate test for Strachan and the hundreds of other hardy distance runners in the province happens Saturday, Nov. 5 during the OFSAA cross-country running championships at the Dagmar Ski Resort in Uxbridge.
The Grade 11 student-athlete from Glebe Collegiate Institute will go to the start line of his first OFSAA championship with an impressive four-race meet record this season.
Not only will he be thrilled to represent Glebe and the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association, but also he’ll be concerned about how his first OFSAA championship race will play out as a first-year senior runner.
“I’m super excited,” Strachan said in an interview, after winning the NCSSAA boys’ senior 6,000-metre race at Mooney’s Bay on Thursday.
“There will be so many fast people there that you can run faster. At the same time, there are so many fast runners, I’ll be nervous. I hope to race my best and make the most of it.”
Strachan, the NCSSAA boys’ junior champion in 2021, posted an 11.24-second victory over the 6,000-metre course, which featured three trips up and down the steep toboggan hill, slippery beach sand and forest trails. He was timed in 20 minutes, 51.54 seconds.
Glebe teammate Kiefer Melinz Dupuis was third in 21:05.96, while Bell’s Zachary Kushner took the middle spot at 21:02.78.
The first-third result by Strachan and Melinz Dupuis helped Glebe win the boys’ senior team title and significantly contributed to the Gryphons winning the boys’ and the overall aggregate titles.
Strachan prepared himself well for the NCSSAA championships with three impressive races, where he collected one first and two seconds.
He placed second in the Capital XC Challenge and the Turkey Trot in Kemptville before winning the recent NCSSAA East Conference championship at the Hornets Nest.
“Going through the racing process helps (build confidence). In the Turkey Trot, I ran against some quick people and I was just trying to hang on. But doing a race is so much harder than workouts,” he added.
As a member of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, Strachan is familiar with the training centre at Mooney’s Bay and its surroundings. He carried a positive attitude into this week’s senior city final.
“I knew who I was racing against and it (a win) was possible,” Strachan explained. “I had a good day. My prep was good and I train with the Lions, which helps me a lot.”
Shortly after running up the hill for a third time, Strachan surged with one kilometre remaining. He was unable to increase his lead by a significant margin, but he maintained his advantage and scored a satisfying victory.
“I looked back a lot, which isn’t a good thing to do, but it’s OK to see where you are in the race,” he added.
When Strachan looked back for the final time after receiving his winner’s medal, he saw teammates Melinz Dupuis finish third, Nicholas Hurley place 16th in 22:54.17 and Aynsley Lawr, Cameron Cino and William Fairhead sprint to 23rd, 24th and 25th in respective times of 23:46.06, 23:47.77 and 23:48.29.
Glebe won the boys’ senior team championship as the Gryphons had the lowest placement point total of 43 points from its top four racers.
The Bell team of Kushner, Simon Yin (13th in 22:49.96), Logan Ladurantaye (14th in 22:51.24), and Sam Palmer (39th in 24:46.51) was second at 68 points. Ben Kelly also raced for the Bruins and was 101st in 30:11.01.
The top two teams qualified for the OFSAA championships.
St. Mother Teresa had a strong effort to place third as a team as William Sanders was eighth in 22:04.64, Logan Grant took 19th in 23:16.83, Lucas Tyman finished 35th in 24:43.00, and Jonathan Kao was 37th in 24:44.84. The fifth runner for St. Mother Teresa was Owen Tyman in 52nd at 25:36.99.
The top-five NCSSAA boys’ senior runners eligible for the OFSAA championships (not associated with Glebe or Bell) were: Ashbury’s Kieran McDaniel (fourth, 21:17.92), St. Joseph’s Matias Del Rio Reategui (fifth, 21:30.93), Canterbury’s Nicholas Belan (sixth, 21:34.20), Nepean’s Liam Downes (seventh, 21:44.34) and Sanders.
Visit our 2022 NCSSAA XC Championships webpage for more coverage, including race-by-race recaps and photo galleries, in the lead-up to the OFSAA provincials on Nov. 5.
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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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