By Charlie Pinkerton
Joe Fast has a flair for fashion and metaphorically-appropriate sportswear. The defending OFSAA cross-country champion of his age-group wore shorts detailed in fireworks at Thursday’s city cross-country championship, a slightly over 5 km race that he burst through in 18:18.31, almost 30 seconds ahead of the race’s silver medalist.
“Might as well dress well,” Fast said with a laugh about his choice of bottom-wear.
Glebe Collegiate’s Adam Sanger, last year’s bronze medalist at OFSAA in the 3000 m event of track and field, and 3rd place finisher in the midget boys city championship last year, came 2nd in 18:44.37 ahead of De La Salle’s Zachary Meredith, who finished 2nd last year at OFSAA XC, and completed Thursday’s race in 19:04.71.
“Usually over the summer I just gain weight and become fatter and slower, but this off-season I trained a lot more,” Sanger recounted, who said joining the Ottawa Lions this fall helped him step up his cross-country performance.
“I was joking around that this city could potentially have 3 of the top 5 guys at OFSAA,” Fast said of his strong Ottawa opponents. “It’s awesome to have such strong local competition all season.”
Fast’s Ridgemont teammates provided one of the most exciting moments on Thursday with a finish that may as well have been determined by a chin hair. Muhammad Luqman edged fellow Spartan Harun Omar Ali at the finish line by less than half a second.
“Me and him have a rivalry,” Luqman grinned. “He comes 3rd, I come 4th. He comes 8th, I come 9th, and he keeps bragging about beating me, so today I wanted to beat him.”
Luqman, a rookie runner on Ridgemont’s team who played rugby instead of running cross-country last year, said this is the first time he’s ever beaten Omar Ali in cross-country.
A spot behind them was Brian Anvari, another Ridgemont runner, to give them a team score of 28 and secure the top spot in the junior boys’ division and head to Petawawa on Nov. 4 for the OFSAA championships for a 2nd year in a row. Before that, the last time a Ridgemont team qualified for the provincial championship was 1962. Andrew Sahadeo (39th) was the school’s 5th runner to finish and will be expected to run for the team at OFSAA.
Louis-Riel’s junior boys’ team also clinched an OFSAA berth with a score of 56. Antoine Ducharme (12th), Matthieu Rustom (13), Olivier Ducharme (14) and Thomas Pollock (17) were the team’s scoring runners, followed by Eric Lajeunesse (21th) in the 5th spot for the team.
Longfields Davidson Heights’ Roy Jackson (4th place), Woodroffe’s William Earle (5th) and A.Y. Jackson’s Colby Frost (6th) also qualified for OFSAA.