SUDBURY, Ontario — The Lo-Ellen Park Knights’ cross-country program is impressive.
That said, they were not alone in returning north with a little OFSAA hardware earlier this month.
Competing with the para racers (intellectual impairment), Lasalle Secondary School senior Riley Cornthwaite garnered a silver medal, covering the four kilometre circuit, along with pacer Ethan Rose, in an impressive time of 18:57.
In so doing, the 17-year-old runner found himself squeezed between Robert Leybourne of Centennial Secondary School in Belleville and Owen Roberts from Corpus Christi CSS in Burlington.
“For most of the OFSAA race, I was ahead by a little bit – but the person who won caught up to me,” suggested Cornthwaite, who has been competing for some nine years now, dating back to his elementary days at Adamsdale Public School.
“My teachers saw how well I could run and they said I should compete when I’m out running,” he added. “That’s how I found out about cross-country running.”
Cornthwaite is actually an OFSAA veteran, having participated before in both cross-country and track and field, though his qualifying race this time around presented a few extra hurdles to overcome.
“The St Joseph Island (NOSSA) course was a little hard for me,” he admitted. “I’m not really used to sprinting up a big hill, something like Adanac Hill, for example. I did enjoy the course at OFSAA.”
“It was nice to compete against people in my division.”
Along with the help of his classmate (Ethan Rose), Cornthwaite was also thankful for the coaching efforts of both Ms Shaw and Ms Passi, as well as some off-the-track assistance from Marty Sheer of Apex Warrior.
“He helped Riley with the mental aspect because he would have anxiety during races,” noted Russ Cornthwaite, proud father to the OFSAA medal winner. “He helped him get over the anxiety and be more consistent during his run.”
“When I run on the course, I pretend that there’s no one near me, I pretend that I’m in a world of my own, racing against myself,” stated the accomplished young athlete. “I tried running with music, but that was a little difficult for me.”
With practice, Cornthwaite has also worked out a pre-race routine that seems to serve him well.
“I know what to expect now, I’ve been there before, but my emotions (sometimes) are through the roof, so I have to calm myself down,” he said. “I just listen to my coaches before the race.”
Covering a distance of three kilometres in previous years, Cornthwaite had no objection to the additional 1000 metres in 2021, bringing the course in line with the novice OFSAA runners.
“For this race, there wasn’t any part that was any harder,” he said. “I start out at a medium pace and then I will go all out at the end.”
Sounds like a perfect podium plan, if ever there was one.
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