Champions crowned at Zone 3 and 4 cross country meet
Laura Secord’s Mackenzie Damiano races to a first place finish in the Zone 4 senior girls division Thursday at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls. Photo by BERNIE PUCHALSKI.
In the development of high school long-distance runners, athletes can make incredible strides early in their careers.
By the time they are in Grade 12, top-calibre runners like Holy Cross’ Campbell Lee have a much harder time shaving seconds off their personal bests.
“Once you get to this stage, there’s no massive jumps like Grade 9,” Niagara Olympic Club coach Bill MacDonald said. “It’s little by little but the race today, I wasn’t even there and he knew when to make a move.
“He was in the forest with somebody and the next minute boom it was time to go and off he went.”
Off he went indeed. Competing in the senior boys division at the Zone 3 and 4 cross country meet Thursday at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls, the Grade 12 student cruised to a comfortable victory to defend his zone crown.
“I just wanted to stick with whoever was leading and then maybe kick on the last k (kilometre),” Lee said. “But I wanted to go and I decided to go early today.”
He wasn’t expecting an easy victory after being challenged at last week’s Niagara Catholic Athletic Association zone meet.
“The guy who came second last week, Santiago (Gaitan-Caballero), I was about 20 second ahead of him,” the 17-year-old said. “He ran the same but I was feeling a lot better this week.”
He was feeling so much better that he beat runner-up Gaitan-Caballero by more than 47 seconds.
Last season, Lee placed third at the Southern Ontario Secondary School Association meet but he couldn’t maintain his momentum at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships.
“I was sick for OFSAA and didn’t have a good day which was pretty disappointing,” he said. “I’m really excited about this year.”
Lee started running seriously at the end of Grade 10.
“I ran cross country in Grade 10 and I really enjoyed it and did pretty well with it,” he said. “I joined the Niagara Olympic Club at the end of my Grade 10 year for track season and I really liked it. I decided to stop playing hockey and took running more seriously.”
He was playing AA hockey when he quit but he has obviously made the right choice.
“I have been taking it more seriously and I’m more focused on trying to be with the top level of guys in the province and in the nation,” he said. “I want to be up there at the top level.”
His goal for OFSAA is to medal. In the long term, he wants to be a scholarship runner at an American university.
MacDonald is confident Lee will achieve his post-secondary goal.
“Campbell has improved so much in the last year,” MacDonald said, attributing it to a number of factors.
“He communicates well, he puts in the effort, he wants feedback and he listens.”
Lee has also done the little things necessary to achieve big results.
“It’s always the little things,” MacDonald said. “It’s eating right, getting enough sleep and making sure you are doing your intervals right on time.
“That’s what brings you to the next level.”
Mackenzie Damiano has a history of near misses in high school cross country racing.
“I missed OFSAA by one place lots of times and last year I missed by literally a foot,” the Grade 11 Laura Secord student said “This year, I am hoping to go.”
She did make it OFSSA track and field last year in the 3,000 metres.
“It wasn’t my best race mentally but I did well physically and now I am ready to do it again,” she said.
On Thursday, she took her first step towards OFSAA by winning the Zone 4 title at the Zone cross country meet held at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls.
“I may have won one in track but this is my first zone title in cross country,” she said. “It feels pretty good.”
Damiano has been running since Grade 5 but has never joined a running club.
“I started running with a triathlon club in Grade 10 and I’ve made quite a bit of progress,” she said. “I just want to keep getting better and keep working hard.”
She’s hoping to do a triathlon next summer.
“I come from a swimming part and I am really excited about the swimming part in the open water. and putting it all together with the running and cycling.”
She will hope to quality for OFSAA next week at the SOSSA meet at the Christie Conservation area.
In the Zone 4 team categories: Blessed Trinity (50) won the combined title followed by Sir Winston Churchill (48) and Governor Simcoe (16); Blessed Trinity (24) topped the boys division followed by Sir Winston Churchill (20) and Governor Simcoe (10); and, Sir Winston Churchill (28) captured the girls crown followed by Blessed Trinity (26) and Holy Cross (10).
In the Zone 3 team categories: E.L. Crossley (60) won the combined title followed by Notre Dame (30) and A.N. Myer (16); E.L. Crossley (30) topped the boys division followed by Notre Dame (22) and A.N. Myer (8); and, E.L. Crossley (30) captured the girls crown followed by Notre Dame (8) and A.N. Myer (8).
Following are top five individual results from the Zone 3 and 4 cross country meet held Thursday at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls:
Para girls (3k): 1. Shannon Swanson, Beamsville (21:20).
Para boys (3k): 1. Owen Konkle, Beamsville (11:44); 2. Brian Knecktel, Beamsville; 3. Andrew McIntyre, Saint Michael; 4. Joseph Nokeo, Eden.
Zone 3 midget girls (4k): 1 Tessa Jeffery, Crossley; 2. Alissa Mete, Notre Dame; 3. Molly Devereux, Greater Fort Erie; 4. Crystal Coyne, Crossley; 5. Lauren Knafelc, Crossley. Teams: 1. E.L. Crossley; 2. Notre Dame; 3. Lakeshore Catholic.
Zone 4 midget girls (4k): 1. Amy Baggs, Eden; 2. Lauren Brooks, Churchill; 3. Shayla Kuzyk, Churchill; 4. Demi Maroudas, Eden; 5. Camryn Bylsma, Great Lakes. Teams: 1. Sir Winston Churchill; 2. Blessed Trinity.
Zone 3 midget boys (4k): 1. Adam Woehl, Greater Fort Erie (14:33:35); 2. Colton Sawatsky, Crossley; 3. Brock Coffin, A.N. Myer; 4. Matthew Roda, Notre Dame; 5. Emile Zanuttini, Notre Dame. Teams: 1. E.L. Crossley; 2. A.N. Myer; 3. Notre Dame.
Zone 4 midget boys (4k): 1. Owen Lockyer, Eden (13:43.43); 2. Tyler Woodland, Smithville Christian; 3. Matthew Jokic, Blessed Trinity; 4. Luca McLaren, Blessed Trinity; 5. Jack Chios, St. Francis. Teams: 1. Blessed Trinity; 2. St. Francis; 3. Laura Secord.
Zone 3 junior girls (5k): 1. Brenna Ainslie, Westlane (20:12.5); 2. Laura Mascai. Lakeshore Catholic; 3. Julia Taras, Lakeshore Catholic; 4. Ella Whalen, Saint Michael; 5. Sydney Grummett, Crossley. Teams: 1. E.L. Crossley.
Zone 4 junior girls (5k): 1. Annie Sterenberg, Great Lakes (21:10.96); 2. Sophie McMullin, Smithville Christian; 3. Clare Atreo, Churchill; 4. Madeline Deboer, Blessed Trinity; 5. Olivia Morey, Eden. Teams: 1.Blessed Trinity; 2. Sir Winston Churchill; 3. Holy Cross;
Zone 3 junior boys (5k): 1. Ethan Miskolczi, Notre Dame (16:56); 2. Drew Colangelo, Crossley; 3. Nicholas Iannazzo, Notre Dame; 4. Graeme Staples, Notre Dame; 5. Campbell Whitley, Crossley. Teams: 1. E.L. Crossley; 2. Notre Dame.
Zone 4 junior boys (5k): 1. Eric Campbell, Churchill (16:30); 2. Noah Lavoie, Holy Cross; 3. Corbin Atkinson, Churchill; 4. Carter McMaster, Eden; 5. Sam Nolan, St. Francis. Teams: 1. Sir Winston Churchill; 2. Eden; 3. Blessed Trinity.
Zone 3 senior girls (6k): 1. Kate Knafelc, Crossley (22:55.28); 2. Jessie Fennell, Crossley; 3. Larissa Adamo, Myer; 4. Kayleigh Bush, Myer; 5. Kaelen Partridge, Crossley. Teams: 1. E.L. Crossley; 2. A.N. Myer.
Zone 4 senior girls (6k): 1. Mackenzie Damiano, Laura Secord; 2. Augusta Walker, Churchill; 3, Ava Ricker-Singh, Blessed Trinity; 4. Jenna Coles, Churchill; 5. Monica DeBoer, Smithville Christian. Teams: 1. Sir Winston Churchill; 2. Blessed Trinity; 3. Governor Simcoe.
Zone 3 senior boys (6k): 1. Santiago Gaitan-Caballero, Notre Dame; 2. Brock Deba, Crossley; 3. Derian Free, Crossley; 4. Elliott Song, Crossley; 5. Jacob Gula, Crossley. Teams: 1. E.L. Crossley; 2. Notre Dame; 3. Niagara Christian Collegiate.
Zone 4 senior boys (6k): 1. Campbell Lee, Holy Cross (19:09.72); 2. Nick Young, St. Francis; 3. Jared Attema, Smithville Christian; 4. Taylor Mowat, Churchill; 5. Ethan Girard, Churchill. Teams: 1. Sir Winston Churchill; 2. Blessed Trinity; 3. Governor Simcoe.