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
Owen Siderius finished a few short seconds back of winner Charlie Mortimer at the national capital high school cross-country running championships on Oct. 26 at the Hornets Nest, but the sting of missing out on individual title was soothed within a few minutes as his Colonel By Cougars emerged with the junior boys’ team victory.
Hillcrest’s Mortimer edged Siderius for the victory by 3.4 seconds, covering the five-kilometre course in a time of 17:41.2 to top the 129-athlete field.
Colonel By’s Austin Walker followed close by in fifth, while Henry Taylor gave the Cougars three athletes inside the top-10 with his eighth-place performance.
“The course was tough,” signalled Walker. “There was a lot of mud and it was just very slippery.”
Siderius, last year’s novice boys’ city champion and OFSAA provincial silver medallist, gained a sizeable lead over the pack midway through the race, which was his plan.
“I think I pushed a little too hard,” indicated Siderius. “I was really feeling it in the stretch, and I was feeling pretty dead by the end.”
Nevertheless, he was still satisfied with his time and said that he knew what he needed to work on to do better in the next competition.
Leading up to the race, both Siderius and Walker trained extensively with their fellow Cougars. They said that practicing together as a team is a really good way to build cohesion and team morale.
“I think it’s always good to include our ninth-grader runners especially,” noted Walker, a Grade 10 student. “We always try to be inclusive and we always try to do our warm-ups together and we help each other out.”
Walker trained for shorter distances throughout the summer, but since the fall, he has started running at least 70 km a week. Siderius has focused more of his abilities for cross-country skiing, which the Nakkertok Nordic athlete finds helps his performance as a runner.
“We do a lot of hills and stuff, so it really gives me an advantage I think,” highlighted the 2023 national champion for boys’ skiers born in 2008.
The back end of this year’s Colonel By team looks different than the crew that won 2022 OFSAA silver as novices. Henry and Roshan Smith (who finished 28th at cities) have entered the lineup in place of last season’s #3 and #4 runners Anthony Ghie and Kiran Dust.
Nathalie Côté, who has been a coach at Colonel By since 2008, said she wants to support her students in becoming multi-disciplinary athletes. She holds practice around four times a week and also offers a variety of training options. For example, she occasionally holds lunch yoga for runners to help them gain some physical flexibility.
“We really do value students who do many sports,” she detailed. “Especially when kids are in high school or younger, it’s good not to specialize too soon and to work on different skills that will make them better.”
At least three of her runners ski just like Siderius, and she said she finds that it helps keep her athletes active throughout the whole year.
Regardless if her students stay in running or not, she hopes that she can encourage to stay active and healthy. She also hopes that she can instil a desire for self-improvement in her students that they can apply to all aspects of life going forward.
“It’s important to focus on your self-progress because I think it’s normal for kids to focus on other people’s progress,” she said. “There’s a lot of space for progression for yourself and that should be exciting for them.”
Mortimer, an Ontario U16 club steeplechase champion for the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, placed sixth in the OFSAA XC novice boys’ race last year. Mortimer will lead the local contingent of individual qualifiers at OFSAA on Nov. 4 in Etobicoke.
He’ll be joined by a pair of Louis-Riel runners, Evan James Rebane (who was third at cities) and Oscar Gorall (fourth), as well as Gisèle-Lalonde’s Adem Walid Chelghoum and Lisgar’s Conlin Burnett.
John McCrae secured the second team OFSAA berth thanks to the efforts of Jackson McKercher (sixth), Adam Yakimuch (ninth), Mateo Harris (20th) and Adam Lin (27th).
NCXC23 Junior Boys’ Photo Gallery
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