Athletics High Schools

NCXC23: Cova cruises to redemption senior boys’ win, Glebe glides to towering team triumph

Visit our NCXC23 webpage for more coverage and photo galleries from the national capital high school cross-country running championships in the lead-up to OFSAA XC 2023.

By Emma Zhao

The final race of the day produced the biggest victories of the day at the national capital high school cross-country running championships on Oct. 26 at the Hornets Nest.

The Glebe Gryphons ran away with the team title by the largest margin of victory out of all six races by a longshot, while Grade 11 Louis-Riel student Daniel Cova outlasted 2022 OFSAA junior boys’ champion Saul Taler to earn the senior boys’ crown by 22.5 seconds.

Cova set a blistering pace from the start and held it all the way through to win the six-kilometre race in 20:27.7.

“I was hoping to get first. I was going into the race thinking that,” signalled Cova. “I had a few people around me expecting the same thing.”

The 2021 novice boys’ city champion not only had his own expectations riding on his shoulders, but also the expectations of a group of his friends and coaches, who made a bet that he would win.

“One kid was betting on me and one kid was betting on Saul,” smiled Cova, whose Rebelles team exchanged friendly good-luck high-fives with the Gryphons before the race.

Cova noted that Glebe runners would often crowd him during races. Throughout his run, he was conscious about maintaining some distance between them and to keep a positive attitude during the race.

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“I know I can do this and I’ve done it before,” he highlighted. “You just gotta stay in that mental zone where you believe in yourself.”

2021 novice boys’ champion Daniel Cova of Louis-Riel returned to the top of the local cross-country running podium with his win in the 2023 senior boys’ competition following a junior silver last year. Photo: Dan Plouffe

A big part of that confidence stemmed from years of training and hard work. Cova said his work ethic has only been improving since joining the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club roughly two years ago. From then on, he started running 80 km a week.

“That really got me prepared for [city finals] and got my performance to where I wanted it to be,” he underlined.

Glebe wins team competition by 91 points

The Gryphons posted an eye-popping victory of 91 placement points in the team competition ahead of second-place Immaculata. Taler led the way in second place, Derek Strachan was third, Russell Heins fourth and Kiefer Melinz Dupuis sixth to record a near-perfect score of 15.

The Glebe Gryphons were the only team to score under 100 points in the senior boys’ event with their total of 15 placements points for their top-four runners. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Glebe is poised to jump quite a ways up the standings at the Nov. 4 OFSAA XC Championships in Etobicoke. The Gryphons placed 16th in the senior boys’ team last year and did not qualify a junior team, though Taler and Heins finished first and third individually.

Glebe coach Kirk Dillabaugh credits his team’s success to the hard work that they put in.

“It’s paid off,” he highlighted, noting his senior boys have become especially dedicated to running.

Dillabaugh ensures that his team has a flexible but effective training schedule. He schedules five practices every week, which allows runners to skip and attend practices as much as they can. Many of Dillabaugh’ss runners participate in other sports, which he values.

“I like to have multisport athletes on the team,” he indicated. “I think that’s the model you need to have in high school.”

Dillabaugh was not only impressed and happy for his team, but also for the success of Cova, who placed ninth as a junior at OFSAA 2022.

“I think he was a little disappointed when Saul beat him at the city championships last year,” he noted. “He’s ready to go. He’ll do really well at OFSAA.”

Matteo Padoin-Castillo and the Immaculata Saints outpaced the Sir Robert Borden Bengals and the Louis-Riel Rebelles for the second OFSAA senior boys’ team berth. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Without their #2 runner Will McGregor from the team that won the OFSAA junior boys’ title last season, the Immaculata Saints still managed to grab a senior OFSAA berth with a combined score of 106, ahead of Sir Robert Borden (116) and Louis-Riel (123).

Noah Smith (fifth), Matteo Padoin-Castillo (10th), Aleksander Meehan (35th), Samuel Carlson (56th) and Nate McFarling (87th) qualified for Immaculata.

With many Glebe and Immaculata runners finishing at the front, an 11th-place finish was all that was required for an individual to qualify for OFSAA. Woodroffe’s Max Wilson (seventh), SRB’s Barrett Gould (eighth), Louis-Riel’s Cohen Kaye (ninth) and Lisgar’s Jacob Puvan (11th) snagged the individual berths alongside Cova.

Lisgar’s Jacob Puvan earned the final senior boys’ individual OFSAA qualification position. Photo: Dan Plouffe

Visit our NCXC23 webpage for more coverage and photo galleries from the national capital high school cross-country running championships in the lead-up to OFSAA XC 2023.

NCXC23 Senior Boys’ Photo Gallery

Visit our NCXC23 webpage for more coverage and photo galleries from the national capital high school cross-country running championships in the lead-up to OFSAA XC 2023.

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