By Charlie Pinkerton
Joe Fast got off to a slow start this cross-country season. After starting the season with several unfamiliar finishes outside of the top spot, 2016’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association midget men’s cross-country champion picked up the pace and finished the year right where he planned, once again crossing the line in 1st place at OFSAA.
“OFSAA was my main focus this year,” Fast said about the provincial high school championships held in Petawawa on Nov. 4.
“It was super satisfying. In cross-country it’s all about place and I achieved my goal,” added Fast, who attributed his slow start to a break from training before the season. After winning a silver medal in the 2000 meter at the 2017 National Youth Track and Field Championships in August, Fast took two weeks off from running while away on vacation.
He won the junior men’s race, for boys born primarily in the year 2002, at OFSAA by 12 seconds, with a final time of 18:22.9 in the slightly over 5km race. Fast was the lone runner from the national capital region to capture an individual medal at the provincial high-school championships.
His Ridgemont Spartans junior men’s team also finished 4th place in their division. Their same age group finished 13th in last year’s midget division. Last season was the first time a Ridgemont men’s team had ever been to OFSAA.
Fast said the comradery amongst his team made this cross-country season most enjoyable.
“It was really fun to run with the team,” Fast underlined. “The coaches and everyone were just so supportive and that made the season a lot more fun.”
Other top individual performers from Ottawa included a trio of junior girls who each came up just short of the podium.
Lisgar Collegiate’s Emma Betty finished 4th place in the race. With around 800 meters to go in the race she only trailed the lead runner by a few meters before a fall in the final stages cost her a spot on the podium. St. Peter’s Katie Newlove finished a spot behind her, in 5th and St. Francis Xavier’s Skye Pellerin came after her, in 6th.
The Glebe Gryphons’ midget teams were other stand outs at OFSAA. The midget women won 1st place in their division with finishes from Ivy Bialowas (19th), Zoe Gardiner (21st), Anna-Sierra Heffernan-Wilker (32nd) and Riley Buckle (96th).
“They were outstanding,” Glebe Gryphons cross-country head coach Kirk Dillabaugh said.
Glebe’s midget men came in 2nd because of finishes by Owen Pensom (21st), Keito Newman (26th), Torin Lam (67th) and Robin Mason (125th).
Glebe’s streak of winning overall women’s gold came to an end this year, with a 2nd place overall finish in the women’s category. They won the title in five consecutive years.
It may have been a different story if one of the school’s top runners, Mei Mei Weston, the city cross-country champion and a 2015 OFSAA junior women’s cross-country champion had participated in the senior women’s race. She travelled to Petawawa with Glebe’s team but was kept out of the race last minute do to an injury that had haggled her all season.
“Whenever you lose one of your top runners it’s going to take its toll. It’s sad that it had to happen but I think it was the right choice for Mei Mei not to run,” Dillabaugh noted.
Glebe also placed the highest of Ottawa schools in the overall men’s standings, tying for 6th overall.
Louis Riel’s boys’ volleyball team repeated as A OFSAA champions. Franco Cite won bronze in boys’ AA OFSAA volleyball. Longfields-Davidson Heights won the consolation final at boys’ AAA OFSAA volleyball. St. Mother Teresa’s girls’ basketball team participated at AAA OFSAA basketball. Cairine Wilson’s girls’ basketball team represented Ottawa at AA OFSAA basketball. St. Matthew’s lost to Newmarket Huron Heights in the Simcoe Bowl of OFSAA football.