Tuesday, 14 December 2010

P-K X-C Round-Up and November POM

Now that the snow seems firmly in place and the temperature outside is an austere -9, X-C season, which ended a couple of weeks ago, already seems like a distance memory. It's not too late, however, for a quick re-cap of the action, including performances by club members at the much anticipated final running of the national meet on the Guelph course.

The highlights where P-K member are concerned were as follows:

Juniors:

Cleo Boyd and Nicole Armstrong's top 10 finishes at OFSAA head the list among the high schoolers, followed closely by the team silver medal won by the midget girls team (U15) at the AO championship. The latter, incidentally, establishes the girls training group as potentially one of the best in the province for the foreseeable future. With only Cleo, Leah McGraw, Taylor Sills (injured for the past season), and Lauren Taylor graduating next year, and with Bantam star Heather Jaros about to enter the group on a full-time basis, the junior girls is stacked with talent and drive. Clara Langely will be its sole leader with the departure of Cleo, but athletes like Nicole Armstrong, Brianna Bradley, Adrienne Morgan, Hannah Coates (should she choose to join permanently) and Heather will, as they continue to mature, soon be closing the gap, helping to create a "critical mass" that is bound to drive the whole group to new levels. In a few years, this team will be in a position to do what the P-K junior boys have managed to do, which is rival the top teams in the country for X-C supremacy, including winning a silver medal at Nationals last year.

Among the university and "not-quite-university" juniors, the highlight of the fall campaign must be Rob Asselstine's scrappy 14th place finish in the always intensely fought junior boys nationals race (and Rob will be a junior again next year). And those who have been following along will know that Rob's performance was also a clutch one, as he had failed to that point to meet the standard he had set for himself on the track last summer in his X-C races. Armed with more effective inhaler for his asthma, Rob was able to fight his way back into form in November, running a personal best for 3k in the Dome just one week before the big day. In Guelph, starting as far back as the low 30s, Rob put on a clinic in how to maximize one's finish position in a crowded and anxious field, stepping deftly through the wreckage until he reached his terminal position-- 14th, and within his seasonal goal range.

Other highlights from within this group would be the junior boys close 4th place finish in the team standings (a little short of expectations, but then credit must go the teams that finished ahead of them-- they were far deeper and stronger than in 2009). In terms of other individual results, UWO sophomore Evan Adrin's 32nd place at the CIS meet bears mentioning, as does Charly Allan's breakthrough 25th place effort at nationals juniors, which went a considerable way in supporting the team's cause.

Seniors: With D. Wykes out in California, whiling away the final hours before what would end up being the race of his young life (of which more in the next installment), Mike Gill became the leading P-K athlete in the senior men's race. And he did not disappoint. As expected (by me, anyway!), Mike defied expectations, continuing the improbable run of improvement that saw him go from overweight (225lbs) ex-college runner to 16mins 5k runner in a matter of months last season. This year, Mike improved from 15:34 to 15:03 between April and October, then finished the season with a 25th place performance in Guelph (falling from a high of 19th in the final 2kms of the race), provoking the question: where will it all end!?

With Emily Tallen recovering from plantar fasciitis and Mary Davies not yet back to form following a series of health setback in the spring and summer, P-K had no representation in the senior women's race this year.

Masters

Here, the day belonged to Rick Minichiello, who entered the men's race as favourite and delivered the goods with a gun to tape victory over yours truly and the strongest contingent of B.C. athletes since the late 90s. With the win here and victory in the Canada Running Series, Rick becomes the top male master in Canada for 2011 (although I'm proud to say I managed to beat him head-to-head in our two other meetings this season!).

In the masters team division, the last minute withdrawal of Roddy Loeppky left the men's 40-49 team one scorer short of a full compliment, and kept us from certain victory (too bad, as we have ample strength in this category among the group of athletes who chose not to run the race). In the 50-59 division controversy still swirls. The P-K side of Bob McGraw, Rich Raflaub, Clive Morgan,Wayne Chee, and Rick Royce would appear to have had the fastest actual time. But, our failure to "declare" the team (even though there were only 5 P-K athletes running in the division) lead to it not being included in the scoring-- a fate that also befell the other favourites, the London Pacers and Newmarket Huskies. As I write, however, these other teams have been reinstated in the revised results, but not us! Whatever the outcome, one fact remains clear from our performance on the actual course: P-K is the strongest masters men's club in Canada!

Among the masters women, performance of the day honours go to online athlete Christine Ross, who, in her first X-C race in many years, finished 3rd in a very tough 45-49 division.


November POM:

Really no surprises here: Mike Gill's performance at Nats X-C takes the honour, making Mike the first double POM winner of 2010, and a strong candidate for his second consecutive POY title.

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