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
Fuelled by her Glebe Gryphons teammates, Lauren Alexander won her first individual cross-country running city title in her senior year of high school, claiming the senior girls’ crown on Oct. 26 at the Hornets Nest.
Alexander also won a team championship with her Gryphons by a healthy margin and her nine-second advantage over second-place finisher Jocelyn Giannotti of Holy Trinity proved to be fairly comfortable as well.
The 2022 national capital senior girls’ bronze medallist said that while she was nervous having to wait all day for her turn in the second-to-last race, she was extremely happy about her performance.
“It’s been a good day, and I’m glad it’s done,” smiled Alexander, who covered the six-kilometre course in 24:10.2. “I really couldn’t ask for anything else.”
During the race, Alexander was conscious about keeping her composure and utilizing the skills she’d been practicing the past few months. Alexander relied on the consistent practices and workouts set up by her coach. Since August, she dedicated multiple hours each week to simple workouts and harder races to maintain her endurance.
“I just needed to stay calm,” highlighted Alexander, who only took the lead with roughly 1 km left. “I really was focusing on just keeping up with the girls I was running with.”
Grade 11 St. Pius X student Isabella Chiumera led the race from the start and into the final woods loop, but struggled mightily in the late stages. The past novice and junior girls’ city champion collapsed just past the finish line and stayed down for a prolonged period while receiving medical attention.
Chiumera nevertheless earned an OFSAA berth with her fifth-place finish, along with fellow individual qualifiers Jocelyn Giannotti of Holy Trinity (second), Peak’s Grace Streek (third), St. Francis Xavier’s Bridget Jeffrey (sixth) and Paul-Desmarais’s Ciara Villeneuve.
“Lauren ran a really patient race,” noted Glebe coach Kirk Dillabaugh. “I knew that in the last few seconds of the race, she had the speed to catch up, and fortunately for her, she did.”
Dillabaugh said that the Gryphons senior girls surprised him with their overall performance, with five girls placing in the top-30. Waverley Lyons (15th), Claire Waddington (20th), Kinsey Sutherland (22nd) and Gillian Keith (28th) propelled Glebe to a 52-point team title over second-place Ashbury.
Fourth-place finisher Kate Johnston-Zemek led her Ashbury Colts to the second OFSAA team qualifying berth along with Maasa Izumikawa (13th), Noemie Pound (46th) and Ella Turner (47th).
“I love it, having this group of amazing girls to run with,” Alexander said of her Gryphons teammates. “I’m always trying to get a good place for them, and I’m just so glad that we all worked hard to get a shot at OFSAA.”
Alexander, who led Gryphons to senior girls’ team silver at OFSAA 2022 with her seventh-place finish, said she doesn’t have specific goals for this year’s provincial championships on Nov. 4 in Etobicoke.
The Gryphons senior girls are an incredibly supportive and competitive group, underlined Dillabaugh, identifying good work ethic and the ability to work as a team as key ingredients to their success.
“I just hope they can continue to enjoy running, and I just hope that they’ll continue to love the sport in their own way,” said Dillabaugh, who was unsure if any of his athletes would compete in varsity university XC. “That’s how I’ll know that I have succeeded.”
NCXC23 Senior Girls’ Photo Gallery
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