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
Just as Amelia graduated after winning back-to-back senior girls’ city titles, a new Van Brabant arrived on the scene for the Earl of March Lions, and Luke seems set to follow his older sister’s successful tracks.
Luke Van Brabant led the Lions to a team victory with his fourth-place finish in the novice boys’ competition at the national capital high school cross-country running championships on Oct. 26 at the Hornets Nest.
Luke only started taking running seriously around May of this year, just as Amelia was getting ready to head off to Boston College to compete for the Eagles.
“My sister really got me into it,” highlighted Luke, who trains three times a week with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club and another three with his school. “This is really my first NCSSAA season, but I’ve just been working hard and trying to do good.”
There is a notable difference between the Van Brabant siblings’ high school running experiences. Despite being a leader both in races and team spirit for the back-to-back national club-champion Ottawa Lions U18 girls, Amelia wasn’t able to rally enough runners to form a team while she was winning high school races.
Luke’s Lions instead had a whopping 12 novice boys entered for the city finals, and the top seven all finished within three minutes of one another.
Algasem Zabarah, who finished 11th, Adam Wagner (17th) and Sunny Chen (30th) combined with Luke to score 62 placement points to edge Immaculata for the team title by a five-point margin.
Though Luke’s teammates don’t run outside of school like he does, Luke said he was incredibly proud of their performance at the city championships.
“I heard (that we won) and I was so surprised and all my teammates were so happy as well,” he recalled, crediting hard work as the key to their success.
“This meet, they really pushed it,” Luke added. “They’re really happy to go (to OFSAA) and it’s going to be good.”
The Immaculata Saints will join Earl as the national capital’s OFSAA team representatives thanks to the performances of individual gold medallist Mitchell Skelton, Maxime Lanca (who was seventh), Ben Smith (16th) and Justin Rioux (43rd).
Skelton won the closest race of the day at the city championships when he out-sprinted Merivale’s Carter Deveer by a half-second to win the four-kilometre event in 14:55.3.
Immaculata won the boys’ aggregate title (for the combined novice, junior and senior standings) and has become an emergent force on the local XC scene.
Skelton, who was the Eastern Ontario Soccer League’s U14 boys’ District 1 division scoring leader for the Ottawa Internationals, was more focused on his soccer training in the lead-up to his first high school race, but he said his team’s competitive nature rubbed off on him.
“I was thinking that I just have to beat the guy,” stated Skelton, who battled with Deveer for the lead for much of the race before surging ahead down the final stretch. “He really challenged me, he really pushed me, so I feel good about that.”
Also set to represent the national capital at Saturday’s OFSAA XC Championships in Etobicoke are individual qualifiers Deveer, third-place finisher Arik Bonilla from Holy Trinity, Ashbury’s Jaiden Lodha (fifth), John McCrae’s Yusuf Elmasry and St. Francis Xavier’s Xavier Rose Royo (eighth).
NCXC23 Novice Boys’ Photo Gallery
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