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Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017
Kusnierczyk and Munro break through at XC Championship
2016-10-20
by Randy Pascal

Augustin Marks de Chabris and Sydney Tarini were right where we expected them to be. Not so much the case for either Meredith Kusnierczyk and James Munro.

The 2016 SDSSAA Cross-Country Championships would see some pre-race favourites cruise comfortably to victory, with a few plesant surprises interspersed into the mix.

A Lo-Ellen junior who really came into his own at the SDSSAA track & field meet in May, Marks de Chabris had clearly established himself as the man to beat in a series of races this fall. And while his victory on Wednesday by more than a minute might have seemed like a walk in the park, such was not necessarily the case.

"Last year, I was definitely not pushing it as hard," said Marks de Chabris. "The first lap, I felt very comfortable and very confident. I may have been perhaps a little too confident, because my second lap was definitely much harder than the first one."

Mind you, five day a week, ninety minute basketball classes that involve a great deal of cardio workout are not generally part and parcel of the ideal pre-race tapering program. "For future reference, I need to balance things out," said Marks de Chabris, with a smile. "Every kilometer was hurting."

Similarly, a first place finish by Tarini was pretty much expected, as the Lo-Ellen senior covered the five kilometer circuit 45 seconds ahead of Collège Notre-Dame swimming sensation Nina Kucheran.

While the graduation of Brendan Costello may have opened up the senior boys division, many were looking to either Ben Lagadin of Lively, or first year Lo-Ellen senior Josh Tillson, to step up atop the podium this fall.

Instead, it was Munro who parlayed a very regimented approach to his final season of high school competition into his first ever SDSSAA crown, capturing the longest race of the day (7 kms) by 33 seconds over Jacxsen Cress of Lively.

"The top guys who dominated me in track were all gone, so I knew this was my year to compete," said Munro. "I was always training, always sore, but you just had to know what you wanted and chase it."

The Lasalle senior was particularly successful as a result of a very specific portion of the Lancer training program that leverages the New Sudbury school's location. "At least once a week, I had hill training at Adanac (Ski Hill), sprinting up and down," said Munro.

"I just knew, when I was getting on the hills, that I could go faster there and then recover on the flat land." Looking to earn a first-ever trip to OFSAA, Munro knows exactly what awaits him, should he advance from the NOSSA ranks.

"I went to provincials this summer for track," he said. "I broke my PB (personal best time) by a lot, and they still destroyed me. Going to OFSAA, it's going to be about getting a PB."

Though the midget girls grouping have been tightly bunched throughout the preliminary races, first place previously belonged to Dylann Mazzuchin of Lo-Ellen, with teammates Fiona Symington and Meredith Kusnierczyk close on her heels.

Yesterday, however, belonged to the latter, who juggles her running training with her workouts for both swimming and competitive girls hockey. "I felt I had a strong start to the race, and I kept my pace," said Kusnierczyk.

"The hills, I find, always help me out." The influx of young talent to the Knights cross-country crew has created the deepest overall team that coach Colin Ward can recall ever seeing, with two of his age brackets targetting top team team finishes at OFSAA.

That kind of goal requires a hefty commitment from the athletes, as Kusnierczyk quickly noticed. "You're definitely putting in a lot more time to the sport," noted the high school freshman. "In elementary school, you might have two practices a week."

"Here, we even have practices on Saturdays." Much like Kusnierczyk, junior girls champion Ariane Saumure of Macdonald-Cartier finds herself pulled in multiple directions, athletically speaking, with both basketball and soccer ranking ahead of her running pursuits.

"I don't really train specifically for cross-country, and I know that some girls take it really seriously, so every year, the competition gets better and better," stated the 15 year-old, who crossed the line 68 seconds ahead of Nathalie Marks de Chabris from Lo-Ellen.

Given that gap, Saumure was thankful that the junior girls race (4 kms) was run simultaneously with the senior boys event (7 kms), with the lads heading off for a second lap into the back trails of Laurentian University.

"When I run against the guys, I really like it," she said. "You get to stay with their pace. You just kind of push each other, and then you hope that there are no girls in front of you, because you can't really see them with that many people in the race."

Also among the list of city champions was André Larocque of Collège Notre-Dame, taking the midget boys distance (5 km) in a time of 21:25, with Kendyn Mashinter sliding into second place at 22:04.

Larocque entered his secondary school career with a noteworthy resume, having captured the prestigious Laurentian Elementary Challenge and the St James Cross Country Race last fall, while completing his grade eight season at Alliance St-Joseph in Chelmsford.

Jordan Burke of Lo-Ellen was the only participant to compete in the "Para" division, covering off his 3200 metre run in a time of 20:50. The NOSSA Cross-Country Championship is set for next Wednesday (October 26th) in Espanola, while OFSAA 2016 goes on Saturday, November 5th in Port Hope.

Following is a breakdown of the top five finishers in each of the six divisions:

Senior Girls (5 kms)
1st - Sydney Tarini (LOE) - 23:52
2nd - Nina Kucheran (CND) - 24:37
3rd - Allison Caswell (LOE) - 25:15
4th - Madi Kellestine (LOE) - 27:13
5th - Emma McDougall (LCS) - 28:29

Senior Boys (7 kms)
1st - James Munro (LAS) - 28:17
2nd - Jacxsen Cress (LIV) - 28:50
3rd - Sean Bélanger (CND) - 28:56
4th - Dawson Chaperon (LAS) - 29:00
5th - Josh Tillson (LOE) - 29:18

Junior Girls (4 kms)
1st - Ariane Saumure (ESMC) - 17:48
2nd - Nathalie Marks de Chabris (LOE) - 18:56
3rd - Jayde Hurley (LOE) - 19:13
4th - Kamryn Butler (LCS) - 19:15
5th - Devin Mantle (LOE) - 20:11

Junior Boys (6 kms)
1st - Augustin Marks de Chabris (LOE) - 24:13
2nd - Connor Jermyn (LOE) - 25:29
3rd - Justin Watson (CND) - 25:40
4th - Lucas Mrozewski (LOE) - 26:59
5th - Jacob Socransky (LOE) - 27:27

Midget Girls (3.2 kms)
1st - Meredith Kusnierczyk (LOE) - 14:17
2nd - Dylann Mazzuchin (LOE) - 14:27
3rd - Fiona Symington (LOE) - 14:28
4th - Isabella Mastroianni (STB) - 14:51
5th - Danielle Pitre (CND) - 15:12

Midget Boys (5 kms)
1st - André Larocque (CND) - 21:25
2nd - Kendyn Mashinter (LOE) - 22:04
3rd - Justin Dauphinais (CND) - 22:28
4th - Ayden Trudeau (ESMC) - 22:35
5th - Aidan MacKenzie (CFD) - 22:46

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