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Sunday, Apr. 22, 2018
A silver medal Strain to Cambrian varsity weekend
by Randy Pascal

The overwhelming majority of Cambrian College varsity athletes may have wrapped up this past weekend wanting more. That was definitely not the case for cross-country runner Mary Strain.

After cruising to one easy victory after another this fall within the OCAA circuit, the Fort Frances native knew that nationals would be no walk in the park. In the end, a silver medal performance bettered by one position the ground-breaking podium finish of fellow Cambrian athlete Emily Marcolini one year ago.

Strain covered the five kilometer course in Sault Ste Marie in an impressive time of 18:24, thirteen seconds behind Jessy Lacourse from Collège Francois-Xavier-Garneau in Québec, and fifteen seconds ahead of Jade Bérubé of Collège Lionel-Groulx in Ste-Thérèse (Québec).

“I knew going into this, that I would have to take a different approach than I was used to in the past,” said Strain. Returning to serious running as she made the move to Cambrian College this fall, the well-spoken former Lakehead University athlete had captured every event in Ontario by at least a minute or more.

“I was used to taking it easy at the start, and then easing my way into first place, whereas I knew that coming into this race, I would be competing against a different level of athlete, girls who were competitive with me.”

It was clear this race would test Strain like no other. “When the gun went off, I went out as hard as I could, quite honestly, to try and get into a good position,” she said. “I was really able to really push myself and change up my strategy to get my second place finish.”

In fact, she credits two things as primary contributors to her second place performance. First, an in-race attitude adjustment that was made. “The fact that I was fighting for second place basically the entire race was a complete game changer for me,” noted Strain.

“During the last kilometer and a half or so, I really thought to myself that I would settle for third place, that I would be happy to be on the podium, and that third place is good enough for me.” That mindset, it seemed, would quickly take a backseat to a new emerging thought.

“I caught myself and said, “Get a grip, Mary – you need to get going, you’re almost done, you’re going to get second place”,”recalled Strain. “At that point, I was able to shift into another gear, gained a 15 meter gap over the girl, and finished very, very strong.”

A finish that seemed quite unreasonable, given the fact that her season to date had ill-prepared the 22 year old for what might come down to a sprint for the finish line. Enter some very focused end of year training.

“I expected that this might happen, in a sense,” said Strain. “A couple of weeks before the race, during my workouts in Nairn Centre, I would finish my last couple of intervals running up a hill, finishing as hard as I could, getting a sense of what it felt like to really kick.”

“I was able to practice that and get myself going into that other gear, which was something I wasn’t used to.” The past two months have showcased an amazing evolution for Strain, who somewhat haphazardly wandered out to the Cambrian workouts in early September.

“My goals this season were to enjoy running again, and to take a risk, put myself out there, and just do it,” she stated. “I conquered those goals this season, and I’m so grateful I had Eric (Leishman) as a coach this year, who really allowed me to do this. I feel motivated to come back and perform as well as I did this year.”


After keeping it close in their first two games of the year, the Cambrian Golden Shield women’s basketball team is struggling to maintain that competitiveness, dealing with a pair of key injuries. With both Emily Tymchuk and Emily Derks sidelined, the Shield dropped a pair of games to the Niagara Knights, falling 100-52 and 80-54 on the road.

Stratford native Taylor Caverley-Grasby topped the Cambrian scoring parade in the opener, netting 17 points, and joining both Megan Desormeaux (14) and Mikaila Alloway (10) in the double digit club.

The Shield narrowed the gap Sunday in Welland, as Caverley-Grasby (15), Desormeaux (13) and Alyssa Short (13) all exceeded the ten point plateau in the loss. Caverley-Grasby and Short also did yeoman’s work in the paint, combining for 27 rebounds in the two-game span, with contributions right across the lineup from Desormeaux and Alloway (nine rebounds each), as well as Karlee Duggan and Heather Ross, both with eight.

Something has to give this weekend, as the Cambrian women take their winless 0-6 record into a pair of matchups with the 0-5 Sheridan Bruins. Game times are set for Saturday at 6:00 p.m., and Sunday at noon, both at Cambrian.


Meanwhile, the Cambrian women’s volleyball team are hopeful that a challenging match against the powerhouse Humber Hawks might be just the right tonic to prepare for a pair of key road battles this weekend.

The Golden Shield remained extremely competitive in falling to the Hawks (20-25, 19-25, 16-25), dropping to 1-4 in league play. While besting Humber would have required a major upset, such is not the case as coach Dale Beausoleil and company ready themselves to take on the Mohawk Mountaineers on Friday, and Redeemer Royals the next afternoon, with both teams deadlocked with identical records of 2-2.

Finally, the Cambrian men did manage to grab a set of Humber, but will be in tough against Mohawk (4-0) before tackling Redeemer (2-2) in what should be a very competitive outing.

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