First-time runner tops NCAA meet
Saint Francis runner Mia Biancaniello and guide Mark Savage are shown in action during the para girls race Wednesday at the NCAA cross country meet.
Cait Whittard made the most of her first appearance at a high school cross country running event.
The Grade 12 student at Denis Morris was first across the finish line in the senior girls race at the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association cross country meet Wednesday at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls.
“I am really busy with my rowing schedule so I wasn’t able to play basketball and I can kind of mix the two with my training for rowing,” Whittard said. “I do runs as my cross training and I just wanted to stay involved with the school.”
The 17-year-old had no expectations for the race Wednesday.
“I just wanted to go out and run. I don’t know pacing so I just kept up with the lead group and then I felt I had more so I went off on my own for the last lap.”
It was a winning but painful strategy.
“I don’t really do hard running workouts, more rowing workouts and I hadn’t done a 6k race before. At the end, it really hurt.”
She has no goal for the running season.
“I am just going to run for fun. I have a friend (Macy Hellwig) on the team and we like to do it together. We can’t see each other because she trains for soccer so this is a chance for us to hang out,” Whittard said.
She trains in the morning at the Ontario Rowing Academy in Welland, goes to Denis Morris for schooling and then goes back to the academy in the afternoon.
Whittard has narrowed down her NCAA Division 1 university rowing destination and she is waiting until she signs to let people know her final choice.
“It really helps,” she said. “Now I can relax and apply to the school in early November.”
Senior girls individual: 1. Cait Whittard, Denis Morris (26:47.9); 2. Adeline Steiger, Saint Francis; 3. Laura Pogoda, BT; 4.Avery Watson, Saint Michael; 5. Henlee Mahoney, Saint Michael.
Senior girls team: 1. Blessed Trinity: (3. Pogoda; 6. Stella Pesut; 8. Sarah Haynes; 9. Jackie Scott; 14. Rachel Bowman).
Carolyn Buri’s main athletic pursuit used to be gymnastics before she discovered running in elementary school.
“I used to be a gymnast and then I stopped but I still wanted a tough sport. In Grade 7, I had done a cross country meet and done well so I wanted to see where I could go with it,” the Grade 10 student at Lakeshore Catholic said.
The 15-year-old Port Colborne resident obviously made the right choice judging by her first-place finish Wednesday in the junior girls division at the NCAA cross country meet at Firemen’s Park.
It wasn’t love at first step for Buri.
“It took awhile because running is always hard and when you start it is extra hard until you get used to it.”
Her gymnastics training helped jumpstart her running career.
“It did because my favourite part was exercising.”
She started running when she was in Grade 8 with Edge Triathlon and considers herself a runner more than a triathlete.
She was a bit surprised by her large margin of victory Wednesday.
“I expected to have two or there people at the same pace as me but it was just Catholic schools and my main competition wasn’t here.”
Her goal for the high school season is a top 10 finish at SOSSA.
Junior girls individual: 1. Carolyn Buri, Lakeshore (20:03.8); 2. Sophia Cino, BT; 3. Olivia Tehrani, BT; 4. Madison Bower, Saint Michael; 5. Sura Madhere, Holy Cross.
Junior girls team: 1. Blessed Trinity (2. Cino; 3. Olivia Tehrani; 6. Ella Smilsky; 7. Sophia Rummo; 8. Simona Ruggieri).
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mia Biancaniello’s only athletic pursuit at Saint Francis was rowing.
But this year she added cross country running to her schedule.
“Because we missed out on sports for the past two years because of the pandemic, I really wanted to push myself to try something new and see how well I could do at it.”
Biancaniello ran her first high school race Wednesday at Firemen’s Park and was the first and only runner across the line in the para girls division.
“I am pleased with how I am doing,” she said. “I have a lot of really great support with my school and my guide runner and everyone around me has really pushed me to do my best.”
The Grade 12 student is enjoying running.
“I like that I get to see things, it’s good cross training and I like to keep up with my exercising and running is a really easy way for me to do that.”
She is rowing for the fall season with the St. Catharines Rowing Club and in the school season with Saint Francis.
“Unfortunately because of COVID I only got in my Grade 9 season but it is really enjoyable,” she said. “I really like rowing because it is accessible and I like to be independent in the sport.”
She is on the water six days week in the fall.
Her guide for Wednesday’s run was Mark Savage.
Julia Tremeer was back in a familiar position at Wednesday’s NCAA cross country meet at Firemen’s Park.
The Grade 9 student at Notre Dame had won two or three Niagara Catholic District School Board cross country titles at the elementary school level and Wednesday she was first across the line in the novice girls division.
“I was hoping to do well but I didn’t know I could go that fast and do that well,” the Niagara Olympic Club member said.
About the only hiccup in the run was a little puking episode when the race was over.
“I don’t know what that was all about,” the 14-year-old Fenwick resident said, with a laugh. “I have never done that before and it was really weird.”
Tremeer is looking forward to what the rest of the high school season has in store for her.
“I am hoping to do well at SOSSA and maybe even move on to OFSAA,” she said.
Her Niagara Olympic Club training will help in that regard.
“I have a lot of great friends there that push me to do my best and the training and coaches are awesome.”
Tremeer also plays soccer and was a member of a Pelham travel team that made it all the way to the Ontario Cup semifinals.
Her sporting loyalties are divided.
“I love both of them,” she said.
Novice girls individual: Julia Tremeer, Notre Dame (17:31.3); 2. Bridget Peazel, Lakeshore; 3. Briar Collins, Notre Dame; 4. Syenn Pylpiw, Saint Francis; 5. Sarah Smith, Lakeshore.
Novice girls team: 1. Denis Morris (7. Angela Taylor; 11. Sarah Fleming; 12. Kailey McKimm; 14. Rheagan Hamm; 15. Adetutu Adeboye); 2. Saint Francis (4. Pylpiw; 9. Syrah Mills; 19. Mariana Orozco; 22. Taiya Ovalle; 23. Naomi Akinlosuto); 3. Blessed Trinity (8. Emily Smilsky; 13. Sienna Melfi; 17. Olivia Roberts; 18. Abygale Price; 24. Brynnley Van der mark).