BRACEBRIDGE - Two Bracebridge Muskoka Lakes Secondary School athletes can count themselves in the province’s top cross-country runners, taking on the hills, dales, muds and fellow competitors in Brampton on Nov. 3.
Natalia Hawthorn, in her final year at BMLSS, came out 12th of 260 senior girl runners at the recent OFSAA finals in Brampton and has earned a trip to nationals in Vancouver at the end of November. Fellow student and junior boy runner Brian Moore also took part, reaching near the top 50 of his field of 260 runners.
Students Brian Moore and Natalia Hawthorn raced at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) cross-country championships having qualified after placing third and first respectively at the GBSSA (Georgian Bay Secondary Schools Association) championships in Duntroon on Oct. 24.
The OFSAA competition pit them against the top 260 runners in the province and their coach Louise Hammond said both represented their school well.
Moore’s junior boys’ race was six kilometres of varied terrain consisting of hills, flats and “enough mud for interest,” she explained.
Because of his third-place seeding from GBSSA competition, Moore had to begin the race behind the first-place individual on the start line, giving him a slight disadvantage at the beginning, she said.
“After a rough start Brian needed to take control of his race,” she explained. “He did this by keeping his head in the race, staying relaxed and focusing his energy on passing one runner at a time to move up on the field.”
The strategy worked well, allowing him to finish ahead of his competitors from previous races and to complete the race 20 seconds faster than his prior run on this course. He ended the competition by placing 58th in the province, which his coach said is a big improvement over his result last year.
Hawthorn, meanwhile, had a position on the starting line because of her first-place seeding from GBSSA, which gave her a great start. She led the group of 260 senior girls for the first half of the race.
“But at this level of competition there are a number of determined athletes who want to win,” Hammond said. “These athletes were looking to pass Natalia at any opportunity.” Despite Natalia’s strong run and great determination she was unable to respond to the advances of her competitors late in the race, but held on for a stellar 12th place finish. While this is her last cross-country race for BMLSS, she continues to train and will compete at nationals in Vancouver at the end of November.