Cold can’t slow down top cross-country runners


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Manitoba’s premier young long-distance runners bundled up to trek the rugged terrain in Killarney for the provincial high school cross-country championships on Wednesday.

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Manitoba’s premier young long-distance runners bundled up to trek the rugged terrain in Killarney for the provincial high school cross-country championships on Wednesday.

An arduous multi-kilometre track awaited athletes while heavy gusts of wind and spurts of rain plagued them throughout the already cool fall day. It was plausible the day would not be won by the fastest runners, but rather, by those who best endured the unfavourable conditions.

Westgate Mennonite Collegiate’s Lena Klassen stayed hot enough to capture the varsity girls championship with a time of 14:19 around a four-kilometre track.

“It was very windy,” Klassen said. “It actually started sleeting a bit and it snowed after the race, and I think it was nine degrees or under. It certainly felt a lot colder.”

“My legs and feet were definitely numb, so I think that would’ve affected how fast I would have been able to run, however, I don’t think it necessarily overall affected me too much. I think everybody felt it when we were all running a bit slower, but definitely, the wind was something to think about.”

The title proved to be extra special for Klassen, a Grade 12 student, who capped her high school career with a win in a sport she’s grown more serious about over the past three years.

“I was definitely very relieved. I think I had a lot of pressure on myself for this moment, so I was definitely relieved afterwards and very happy,” said Klassen, who placed second in the 2021-22 provincial championships.

“Definitely a moment I’ve been waiting for, for many years. In grade nine, I was able to run provincials and I always looked up to the faster runners and it’s interesting to be in that place now.”

Klassen wasn’t the only one from her school who left Killarney with some hardware. Westgate’s varsity girls team captured the A-AAA crown with 56 points.

While the varsity girls and junior varsity boys raced around the four-kilometre track, the varsity boys were tasked to run an extra kilometre to decide who ruled the province.

Vincent Massey Collegiate’s Alejandro Civetta wore the crown after a time of 15:45. Like Klassen, the senior finished his high school career on top.

“Coming in, I knew someone was not far behind so I was sprinting and it felt good,” said Civetta, who’s been running cross-country since elementary school. “It feels great to finally be able to win after putting so much time into it.”

“I knew this year was my last chance to win and I knew coming in I had a chance and all the hard work paid off in the end.”

In what turned out to be a rather fair give-and-take, the varsity boys ran their five-kilometre race first, avoiding the harshest conditions of the day.

“But the wind was really bad today, so it was tough,” Civetta said. “When we were in the wind, we were running a lot slower than when we were running with the wind at our back. What helped was us sitting behind that front pack so you could shield the wind a little bit.”

The rest of Civetta’s team ran admirably to 96 points but were unable to outdo St. Paul’s High School, which claimed top honour for the quadruple-A varsity boys side with 34 points.

Vincent Massey Collegiate’s Annika De Smit was the junior varsity girls’ top individual while Carman’s Nate Phillips took home the top individual honour for junior varsity boys.

Twitter: @jfreysam

Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.


Updated on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 9:35 PM CDT: Adds photo

Updated on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 2:27 PM CDT: Sean Ehmann spelling fixed

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