HHS cross-country team sets great example for younger runners



Main photo: Huntsville Hoyas (in the foreground from left) Austin McKee, Kyle Kingshott, David Laughton, Ally Goldring, Jamie Steele, Zac Belfry, Maggie Pitts, Sophia Marshall, Lochlan Willows, and Stella Keay were some of the students helping to host the annual Hoya Hills Cross-Country Invitational at Arrowhead Provincial Park (Photo courtesy of Jen Rosewarne)

By Jen Rosewarne

We’ve heard it said a million times: they grow up so fast. The Huntsville High School (HHS) cross-country runners seemed out to prove that adage true last week.

At the Pre-OFSAA meet at Christie Lake Conservation Area on October 3, the HHS team put it all on the line. The day was grueling because, to allow for travel time, the team had to be on the road by 6 a.m. Even considering the early start, the Midget girls had to dash to the start line to make their race.

It was a brisk day with cool winds and the athletes huddled under layers doing homework and keeping warm between races. The bus didn’t pull into Huntsville until after 8 p.m. but there was not a complaint to be heard. Rather, runners expressed their appreciation to coaches and left saying what a great day it had been.

While everyone made head coach Pierre Mikhail proud, the Senior boys, Junior girls, and Midget girls had a particularly successful day.

The Midget girls—Laura Yungblut, Grace Gaughan, McKinley Ballantyne, and Chloe Punkari, who had a team best in 23rd place—finished eighth out of 31 teams. The Junior girls—Emma Elliott, Sophia Marshall, Sally Franks, and Emma Dickson—finished seventh overall, ahead of 38 other schools. The Senior boys team ranked sixth out of 66 schools. The first four HHS runners to finish were Cameron Heinz, Owen Johnstone, Judah Meaker, and Keegan Chan. All students demonstrated drive, good humour, and maturity.

Hoyas cross-country runners at Pre-OFSAA (Photo courtesy of Jen Rosewarne)

Hoyas cross-country runners (from left) Sally Franks, Claire McKnight, Sophia Marshall, Emma Dickson, Emma Elliott, and Maddy Arsenault at the Pre-OFSAA meet at Christie Lake Conservation Area, north-west of Hamilton (Photo courtesy of Jen Rosewarne)

A lot has brought these athletes to this point, not the least of which is a Huntsville tradition: Hoya Hills Cross-Country Invitational. It ran this year on Thursday, September 27. Because we are a community that celebrates our outdoors, one that values our rugged terrain and our tough character, Hoya Hills is very well attended with over 600 elementary school runners alone. When asked how many of the aforementioned HHS athletes ran in the meet as a child, every single runner put up a hand.

HHS student Charlie Maslin said, “(Hoya Hills) gave me the idea that I could run. I was usually one of the faster people, so I kind of liked that.” He’s run in the race since grade 3.

Maddie Witterick still loves being part of the meet, both as a runner and as a host: “You notice how far you’ve come.”

Sadie Hamilton agreed. “And it’s a good chance to influence the little kids. A great way to interact.”

Future Hoyas? The annual Hoya Hills Invitational encourages local students to get involved, and stay involved, in cross-country running. (Photo courtesy of Jen Rosewarne)

Future Hoyas? The annual Hoya Hills Cross-Country Invitational encourages local students to get involved, and stay involved, in cross-country running. (Photo courtesy of Jen Rosewarne)

According to these high school students, we could look to the Hoya Hills elementary race and pick the future HHS team. This being the case, we would surely look to the top runners:

  • Grade 1-2 boys: Jake Richter;
  • Grade 1-2 girls: Sophia Maduri;
  • Grade 3-4 boys: Ky Coulombe;
  • Grade 3-4 girls: Claire Allison;
  • Grade 5-6 boys: Noah Galt;
  • Grade 5-6 girls: Alayna Heinz;
  • Grade 7-8 boys: Jesse Gardiner;
  • Grade 7-8 girls: Kismet Tillson-Hunter.

These students were the quickest on this particular day, but everyone had a good time and, in the end, isn’t that really what it is all about? Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make it happen.

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