Athletics High Schools

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Novice XC champions Owen Siderus & Evelyn Davies speedy on grass or snow

Visit the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Facebook page for a photo gallery of this race

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

Winter’s coming. Time to track down and pull out the cross-country skis.

Owen Siderus of the Colonel By Secondary School Cougars and Evelyn Davies of the Immaculata Catholic High School Saints will be doing that shortly as the natural and artificial snow will soon be covering the ground at the Nakkertok Nordic Ski Club in Cantley, Que.

But before they glide into their nordic training programs and seasons, they have at least one more cross-country running assignment, which is due Saturday during the OFSAA provincial high school championships at Dagmar Ski Resort in Uxbridge.

Siderus and Davies qualified for their first OFSAA championships by recently winning their respective National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association boys’ and girls’ novice cross-country running titles over a challenging, 4,000-metre course at Mooney’s Bay.

The long-distance training associated with each of the two cross-country disciplines has allowed Siderus and Davies to produce positive results as endurance runners and skiers.

“At Nakkertok, we do a lot of endurance stuff. It’s not the same as cross-country (running), but the intensity is the same,” Siderus explained.

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Davies started competing in nordic ski racing and/or road racing in 2014, when she was six years old. Earlier this year, she skied at the Eastern Canadian championships and completed the Ottawa Race Weekend 10-kilometre race in 44 minutes, 51 seconds.

In both cases, Siderus and Davies are developing the required stamina for their sports and have become familiar with competing on the flats, uphills and downhills and travelling over various types of ground conditions or snow.

Siderus posted the fastest time in the boys’ novice race of 13 minutes, 55.26 seconds, while Hillcrest’s Charlie Mortimer was second in 14:15.66 and Colonel By’s Austin Walker rebounded from an injury to place third in 14:20.27.

Colonel By’s Owen Siderus and Austin Walker both earned places on the individual podium to lead the Cougars novice boys to the national capital team title. Photo: Dan Plouffe

“At first, I thought I went out too fast, but it worked out well,” said Siderus, who also won the NCSSAA East Conference championship over Mortimer and Glebe’s Kiran O’Hare.

“Going up the hill a second time, I felt it was hard, but the rest of the course was good. I have run here plenty of times (training with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club). I wanted to stay ahead, but I wasn’t sure about some of the runners in the West Conference.”

The winning performance by Siderus, who gave some credit to Cougars teacher-coach Natalie Côté for his success, and Walker’s strong third-place effort spearheaded Colonel By to the boys’ novice team title and a berth at OFSAA.

Led by the fifth-place showing of O’Hare in 14:55.06, Glebe was the second novice team to advance to OFSAA.

The top two teams in each of the boys’ and girls’ novice, junior and senior age divisions plus the top five individual runners not associated with a qualifying team made the grade for OFSAA.

Representing NCSSAA boys’ novice team champion Colonel By at OFSAA will be Siderus, Walker, Anthony Ghie (who was 12th in the city final in 15:22.28), Kiran Dust (13th in 15:22.51), Adrian Tang (20th in 16:00.40) and Samuel Khosla (28th in 16:13.88).

Representing the NCSSAA as the runner-up team are Glebe athletes O’Hare, Aksel Battou-Ashab (11th in 15:18.05), Jack Johnston (23rd in 16:05.34), Lluc Bou (24th in 16:05.59), Saurav Kurien (25th in 16:06.71) and Oliver Miranda (35th in 16:33.35).

The five boys’ novice individual runners are Mortimer, Jackson McKercher of John McCrae (fourth in 14:32.69), Adam Yakimuch of John McCrae (seventh in 15:06.98), Jacob Zegers of Mer Bleue (eighth in 15:07.09) and Cole Gimby of South Carleton (ninth in 15:08.88).

Walker missed two weeks of training leading up to the NCSSAA city championships because of a sprained ankle. If he wanted to run in the city finals, he needed to compete in the East Conference championships. Walker finished the conference race in 38th place, which was almost four minutes behind Siderus.

While Walker returned to the Cougars’ roster for the NCSSAA finals, the team lost William Ross, who was fourth at the East Conference championships. Ross, a goaltender, stepped away for a hockey tournament.

Earlier in the cross-country season, Walker was second in the Louis-Riel XC Cookie meet and third in the Turkey Trot. Siderus placed second in the Turkey Trot.

Siderus and Walker come by their cross-country running skills honestly. Siderus’s mother Sarah (Hughes) Siderus formerly competed for Hillcrest High School, while Walker’s father Blair wore Glebe colours.

The novice girls got the day started with the first race of the national capital cross-country running championships on Oct. 27 at Mooney’s Bay. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Meanwhile, Davies was considered one of the frontrunners in the girls’ novice 4,000-metre race, after the Immaculata student-athlete placed fourth in the Capital XC Challenge girls’ junior varsity (Grades 9-10) race and was the top novice runner (Grade 9).

“I was surprised,” Davies said, after her convincing 14-second victory at the NCSSAA championships. “There were a lot of people, some really good runners and it was a tough course.”

She carried some confidence into the race, having captured the East Conference race by almost 26 seconds.

“It was hard at the start with so many people. It was crowded. I tried to stay to the side and slowly caught up. I was happy how it went, but it was stressful,” she added.

Endurance racing appears to be Davies’ athletic strength.

“I like how there are different surfaces (in cross-country running). It’s exciting. It’s long-distance and I like long-distance.”

Davies won her first NCSSAA cross-country running title in 16:15.68, while Franco-Cité’s Nadine Buchanan was second in 16:29.80 and Tillie Pender of Nepean claimed third in 16:30.95.

Pender’s performance sparked Nepean to the girls’ novice team championship, while Julia Van Wesenbeeck’s fourth-place showing in 16:37.72 helped Glebe to second place in the team standings.

Representing the NCSSAA girls’ novice team champion Nepean at OFSAA will be Pender, Edie Petrescue-Commene (12th in 17:15.47), Molly Hale (14th in 17:26.66), Olivia Voros (16th in 17:30.04), Rio Francis (57th in 19:51.64) and Avery Magnusson (77th in 21:11.81).

Glebe will be represented by Van Wesenbeeck, Zoe Bennett (17th in 17:30.38), Madeleine Leschinsky (24th in 18:01.94), Madeleine Beauregard (45th in 18:53.38), Kailena Allen (55th in 19:45.26) and Megan Strachan (56th in 19:49.49).

The top five individual girls’ novice runners are Davies and Buchanan as well as Naomi Koschade of South Carleton (fifth in 16:43.75), Kyra Lauter of Franco-Ouest (sixth in 16:54.36) and Elissandre Hutt of De La Salle (eighth in 16:58.02).

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.

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

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

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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