Kivi Park suits the Knights just fine
by Randy Pascal
Sometimes, it must seem like nothing but the Lo-Ellen Park Knights get talked about within the SDSSAA cross-country scene.
Mind you, when you capture five of the six individual titles, and four of six team banners, that sort of thing tends to happen.
With only the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes' boys (midget and junior team champs) and Lasalle Lancer midget sensation Calum Passi
denying the juggernaut Knights a complete start to finish sweep, the Lo-Ellen crew was once again dominant at the city championships at Kivi Park on
Though Lo-Ellen midget Austin Mashinter would finish second to Passi in the first race of the day, the outcome was not overly dramatic, with the
winner crossing the line more than thirty seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
That is but one of the reasons that Passi is anxiously awaiting the first NOSSA and OFSAA events of his high-school career. "I find I am very mental,
where if there is someone in front of me, I can stick with them," stated the younger brother of current Laurentian varsity cross-country runner, Liam
"When you're by yourself, you're chasing a ghost, so to speak, which is a lot harder. But overall, it was a very good race." Splitting his time between
his competitive soccer pursuits and his love of both cross-country and track and field, Passi has recently joined forces with Track North Athletic
Club, following a similar path to that of his brother some five years older.
"I started training with Darren (Jermyn)," he said. "He's an amazing coach. If I was just on my own, I would be out doing five times one kilometer
repeats at a three minute pace. Darren knows better. His widsom really helps, and my brother is mentoring me as well."
Hopeful of making his first appearance at the high school provincials championships in November, Passi is looking to create a running foundation on
which he can build. "I would definitely like to place decently (at OFSAA)," suggested Passi.
"I want to see how I stack up. I'm looking forward to the next few years, just training, improving, getting to meet different people, get tips from
different runners." That was pretty much the scene for Lo-Ellen junior Meredith Kusnierczyk just one year ago.
After battling stride for stride through much of the 2017 race, Kusnierczyk would edge out teammate Fiona Symington by the slimmest of margins, with
both of the Knight runners given a final time of 22:40.
"We ran together the entire race," confessed Kusnierczyk. "Isabella Mastroianni was ahead of us both for the first bit of the race. We ended up
passing her with a couple of kilometers to go."
Similar to Passi, Kusnierczyk is not at all concerned as the races become more congested at the next level, coming off a 38th place finish at 2016 OFSAA,
second best among all SDSSAA reps. "It's nice to have a lot more girls there that push you as well," she stated.
"I know there's always girls that are going to be way ahead of me in the race, so I have a goal to simply try and catch the next girl ahead of me." The
well-spoken grade ten student is not one to seek out the spotlight, part of the reason she prefers cross-country to track.
"I find the track and field situation more nerve-wracking," she said. "In cross-country, you're in the bush, you kind of get to hide yourself in the run.
In track, you're right out there in the center. I also do better on the hills than the flats, so in cross-country, that helps."
It was those very same Kivi Park hills that provided the most pleasant surprise for Lo-Ellen senior Augustin Marks de Chabris, who followed up an
impressive win at junior level one year ago with a solid 40ish second victory in his first year of senior competition.
"Before the race, I always try and visualize, and before this race, I visualized myself struggling on the hills," he said with a smile. "Usually, that is where I get
the most fatigued, because I often go way too hard on the hills and then I have to rest on the flats."
"Today, I felt really good on the hills, much better than I expected." The venue for the city meet was moved, for the first time this year, from its
traditional recent home at Laurentian University to the popular Kivi Park setting, trails which hosted an early season preliminary race, though not with
the same routes as were followed on Wednesday.
"It helped that our coach, Mr (Colin) Ward - he's a great coach - led us on a long run last Sunday to preview the course," said Marks de Chabris.
"That especially helped. I may live near Kivi, but I certainly don't run on the trails very often."
In making what is likely to be his third appearance at OFSAA this year, the Knights' veteran parallels, to some extent, the mindset of his midget
counterparts, using his first year in the senior bracket to garner knowledge that will supplement those helpful tips that he has already latched on to.
"In terms of goals, I am a bit more relaxed, seeing as though I have another years left in the same category," said Marks de Chabris. "The biggest thing
I have learned so far is not to stress yourself out, not to get too nervous before a race."
"Last year, I would get so excited that I would often jump the gun and go way too fast the first kilometer or first two "kms", and burn myself out."
Hopefully the lessons learned will prove beneficial when Marks de Chabris and the remaining top end Sudbury crew travel to Mattawa next Wednesday.
Rounding out the podium toppers were Kristen Mrozewski (midget girls), Kendyn Mashinter (junior boys) and Sydney Tarini (senior
girls), all from Lo-Ellen. The best team race of the day was a toss-up between the midget and junior boys.
The Alouettes would claim both crowns, with the CND midgets (29 points) just ahead of both Lasalle (37) and Lo-Ellen (38), while the juniors edged the
Knights 30 vs 32.
Following is a breakdown of the top five individual racers as well as the team champs in each of the six divisions:
1st - Kristen Mrozewski (LOE) - 19:03
2nd - Chandy Bachiu (LOE) - 19:04
3rd - Kalila Bachiu (LOE) - 19:04
4th - Avery Blanchard (STB) - 19:21
5th - Ophélie Bruneau (CND) - 19:31
Team Champs: Lo-Ellen (Mrozewski, Bachiu, Bachiu, Sarah Ieropoli)
1st - Calum Passi (LAS) - 15:08
2nd - Austin Mashinter (LOE) - 15:41
3rd - Brandon Hass (Riv-Francais) - 16:11
4th - Jérémi Aubin (CND) - 16:53
5th - Ethan Thomas (LOE) - 17:26
Team Champs: Notre-Dame (Aubin, Sean Potts, Samuel Branconnier, Jordano Piccoli)
1st - Meredith Kusnierczyk (LOE) - 22:40
2nd - Fiona Symington (LOE) - 22:40
3rd - Isabella Mastroianni (STB) - 22:55
4th - Dylann Mazzuchin (LOE) - 23:24
5th - Delaney Bourget (LOE) - 23:34
Team Champs: Lo-Ellen (Kusnierczyk, Symington, Mazzuchin, Bourget)
* only Mastroianni prevented LOE from obtaining a perfect race score of ten (1+2+3+4)
1st - Kendyn Mashinter (LOE) - 17:41
2nd - André Larocque (CND) - 18:31
3rd - Ayden Trudeau (ESMC) - 19:59
4th - Aiden Mackenzie (CFD) - 20:11
5th - Jeremy McNamara (CND) - 20:27
Team Champs: Notre-Dame (Larocque, McNamara, Philippe de la Riva, Avery Chisholm)
1st - Sydney Tarini (LOE) - 24:46
2nd - Nina Kucheran (CND) - 25:13
3rd - Nathalie Marks de Chabris (LOE) - 25:35
4th - Ariane Saumure (ESMC) - 25:54
5th - Jayde Hurley (LOE) - 26:15
Team Champs: Lo-Ellen (Tarini, Marks de Chabris, Hurley, Eden Santi)
1st - Augustin Marks de Chabris (LOE) - 20:41
2nd - Tony Piro (STB) - 21:18
3rd - Connor Jermyn (LOE) - 21:26
4th - Josh Tillson (LOE) - 21:38
5th - Ben Lagadin (LIV) - 22:08
Team Champs: Lo-Ellen (Marks de Chabris, Jermyn, Tillson, Lucas Mrozewski)