Microwave version: François Richard ‘21 dominates Senior Boys’ 6km to be Provincial Champion 2020. Not since 1992 and Paul Archibald '93 has a KES student been champion. Aria MacDonald ‘21 goes beyond herself to be on the podium with a BRONZE medal. Any race we would have this season would be a great race. Just getting to race was a win. We had our first one last week with our Western Region Championship victory in the Senior Boys’ race, with Grade 12 students Aria MacDonald and François Richard taking the individual GOLDS. Unfortunately, only Aria and François and other individual qualifiers from around Nova Scotia could compete in Halifax on Monday at Point Pleasant Park for the NSSAF Provincial Championship as no teams could qualify.
Going into the race, François had told me that his race plan was to stay in the pack for the first of three identical 2km loops before making a break for it on the second loop. He was concerned that he had gone out in the lead last year and broke apart to finish a disappointing 6th. Knowing that François had been putting in incredible practice times and showing amazing fitness, I figured he should just crush it and lead start line to finish line. After all, I knew that this was not François version 2019. However, I kept quiet, for the most part, and let him start how he wanted. About 600 meters into the race, there is a long and challenging hill. François was in the lead, feeling great, but tried to fall back a few steps and let others take the lead (his plan, right?). The other runners were having none of it - when the big dog slowed down, they all slowed down, and François stayed in the lead. At that point, Francois decided to run his speed and see who stayed with him. He ran by himself and crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of second place, who was also second place in 2019. If you have an Eastlink subscription, then you should be able to find their interview with François.
When I asked Aria last week if she could see herself on the podium, she laughed. I did not laugh. Those girls are all so fast, Aria said. So fast. (Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to succeed, and oftentimes the first step is to see ourselves succeed). She had reason to be sceptical. In 2019, Aria placed 8th at this championship meet, and all three of the podium finishers had returned for 2020. The race got underway with both Senior boys and girls running together (for 2020 reasons), and Mr. Robinson and I headed for the 1800m at the bottom of a hill, and we can easily jog to the 2 km point to see them a second time on each loop. The first girl comes down (as she was in 2019), then the second (as she was in 2019), then ARIA in 3rd! That was exciting - she was doing it! We were as nervous as could be for lap two, but there she was, and she had extended her lead over the 2019 bronze medallist! On the third lap Aria’s lead had shrunk and with 300m to go it was clear to the accomplished runner behind Aria that she just had a shot of catching her. She pulled even with a tiring Aria at 100m to go, reached a step ahead at 25 meters, and somehow, somewhere, Aria mustered a final push to regain her lost lead and cross the line for the BRONZE medal. It could not have been a more exciting finish! Aria collapsed and stayed that way for a solid 15 minutes - she had absolutely exhausted herself. Around her was jubilation. François was excited, his parents were excited, Aria’s parents and sister and dogs were excited, Mr. Seagram and Mr. Walsh were smiling so much that their masks couldn’t contain their smiles, Lucas Gimenez ‘21 was so happy for his teammates, and their coaches just kept saying, Oh, Wow!
The backdrop, of course, is COVID-19. We are so lucky and thankful to be living in the relative safety of where we are and to have a federation that has been willing to stretch themselves to make this happen for our students, so, thank you, Stephen Gallant. That backdrop was where Aria and François logged hundreds of kilometres since March - largely by themselves. That makes today even more special.
Before I thank anyone, an overdue acknowledgement to Emma Powell ‘24 for starting her race (and being among the leaders for the first kilometre) last week at the Western Regional Championship and putting in a tough effort before injury forced her out. A miscommunication didn’t lead to her recognition last week. Great effort, Emma!
Thank you to Lucas Gimenez ‘21 for his support of his teammates today in the roles of warm-up partner and team manager, to Mr. Seagram and Mr. Walsh for their continued support as shown today (and as you can see in Mr. Seagram’s Newsletter photos ); thank you to Ms. Kim Shanks for arranging all our of our travel details, especially the last minute ones. Thank you to Mr. Marshall Davidson and his maintenance crew for their continued care and concern for our cross-country trails and track. Thank you to Ms. Sue Cole and Ms. Jennie Weisner for keeping our runners moving. Lastly, a very special thank you to Mr. Guy Payne. My apologies to anyone I have forgotten to publicly thank, but I hope I have at least done so personally.
Math 11/12/Calculus Teacher
Head Coach Cross Country and Track and Field
World Athletics Level V Endurance