The following article was contributed by the Collingwood Collegiate Institute (CCI) Cross-Country team.
The Collingwood Collegiate Fighting Owls carried their winning momentum from the 2023 cross-country running season into the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSSA) championship held at the Georgian Nordic Centre in Parry Sound on Oct. 26.
The Owls captured the girls’ overall team title, the boys’ overall team title and the overall combined championship.
The overall championship was fashioned out of some exceptional group performances as the Black and Gold took first-place honours in five of the six races and placed second in the other.
This marks the second year in a row that Collingwood Collegiate has achieved this feat and will now send all six teams to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) all-Ontario Championships in Etobicoke on Nov. 4.
This great one-day championship achievement follows a dominant season for the Owls as they captured all four meets in the Georgian Bay cross-country race series.
The overall series championship means that “The Golden Boot” will, once again, reside in Collingwood. The season series championship was fuelled by contributions from all parts of the team as each of the six race divisions saw a CCI team either tied for or in sole possession of a first-place finish.
At the GBSSA championships, the novice girls team got the day off to a fantastic start as they captured first place led by Rachael MacMillan and Stella Lennox in fourth and sixth places respectively. Julia Lehmann added a top-10 finish while Beatrice Cheek and Annaliese Greig rounded out the team that will now go on to the OFSAA championships.
The novice boys then punched their ticket to OFSAA with a powerful performance as Jean-Jacque Michener and Gavin Magwood finished in the gold and silver medal positions individually while Cole Elmes was fourth. The team placed five runners in the top nine positions and seven in the top thirteen places. Rounding out the team and making their way to Etobicoke are Seth Tangney, Blake Shaw, Owen Edwards and Liam McFarlane.
The junior girls then produced the race of the day as Sabine Cornell led the way for the Owls by capturing first place, pacing a squad that would sweep the entire podium and take the top five spots in the race. Sadie Johnson placed second while Elly Moore took the bronze medal. Ruby File finished a strong fourth while Sofia Mundle grabbed fifth and Meredith Holloway placed eighth to round out the OFSAA-bound team.
The junior boys were next up and once again put in place a strong group effort to take first as a team. Evan Moore led the way for the Owls in fifth place, while Ewan Hurley and Evan Pollock were 10th and 11th respectively. The team then placed another three runners in the next six positions to seal the victory with Marco Savini (14th), Ryne Henry (15th) and Andrew Francioni (17th) finishing off the team.
The senior girls ensured their participation at the Ontario Championships with a solid second place team finish paced by Chantal Abbott who placed second individually, followed closely by Emmily Ott in fourth. Kenzie Wall, Ashleigh Cavill, Evie Oakey and Hanna Lewin rounded out the team with solid top-28 finishes.
The senior boys then capped off the day with another first place team finish paced by outstanding runs from Ben Mundle who took first-place honours individually and by Wes MacMillan in second position. Nathan Sims finished an impressive eighth while Johnny Liotta and Memphis Palmer-Gummer were 13th and 14th to establish yet another CCI team that will make its way to OFSAA.
In all, it was a fantastic day of racing for the Owls who will now prepare to take on the best in Ontario at Centennial Park in Etobicoke. This year’s team will look to build on last year’s performance that saw Collingwood Collegiate amass more team points at OFSAA than any other school in Ontario with the girls’ teams placing third in the province and the boys’ team taking sixth place.