Cross Country | Meet 3

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Saturday brought the CAS and GPS Cross Country teams to North Ryde Common on an again excellent morning. Unlike previous editions of the course, the average grass height measured less than 20cm(!), auguring for a faster race, but the undulating nature of the course is well known and there was no avoiding the “killer” hills. It was wonderful to welcome back three of our best athletes trundling around the course as they slowly return to running following varying injuries: Joshua Lubke (7Ta), Jack Waide (10Ke) and William Cooper (12Hi). In particular, after William and Joshua’s extremely classy act of turning up to support all their teammates the previous weekend, we were proud to see them running once more alongside them. It’s also worth saying, before we view the races in more detail, that we have a wonderful coaching staff, and we are very fortunate to have the likes of Mr Raptis, Mr (Ben) Bishop, Mr Hirst and Mr Currer helping our boys to do their best with a friendly manner and depth of knowledge. We are well served by their commitment!

Without doubt, the spectators’ race of the day was the tight tussle between, once again, Kobe Stewart (7Yo) and Matthew McLachlan (8WJ) as they fought for supremacy at the head of the U14s race. This time, though, it was Matthew who prevailed, finding one more ounce of speed in the final stages to surge to the lead. The booming reaction of the crowd to this spectacle was evidence enough of the effort and quality of these two fine young lads, and we look forward to their ongoing, friendly competition as they continue to push each other to new heights. Joshua Lubke, although restraining himself significantly on his path to recovery, still ran 42nd place(!), while Andy Lin (8WJ) came a very good 57th and as our 4th runner, secured our team result of 4th overall but 1st in the CAS. Another name of note was Jonathan Wakim (8Du), whose effort is unquestioned and who fought tooth and nail for his great result of 61st place. One of the joys of our events is the post-race debrief in which runners tell anecdotes and reflect on their performance, the course and their competitors. It was marvellous to take part in one such conversation with Christian Ng (7WJ), Archie Campbell (7We) and Cooper Beanland (7Sc), in which they did credit to themselves by reflecting on past performances and not just what place they attained, but whether they improved and how they might improve in future races.

Our U16s team once again provided not a whiff of hope for any of its CAS or GPS competition, finishing in 1st position overall due to the remarkable depth which we possess. It is appropriate to recognise Knox’s strong performance in this age group, coming 2nd and showing us some of the talent they have at their disposal; we will have to be consistently at our best to stave off our main CAS rival for the remainder of the season. Micheal King (10Ta) is making a habit of appearing to jog the first few laps, only to move from 3rd to 5th gear and proceed to round up any and all runners in his sights! Anecdotally, the number of runners he passed in his final lap on his way to 4th place amounted to 12, an amazing finish for a hilly course. Meanwhile, Joseph Cantlon (10Du), although suffering the unfortunate fate of one of those 12 runners, nonetheless ran extremely well to finish one behind him in 5th, while Ben Moloney (9Yo) in 7th and Lewis Potter (11Fo) in 14th rounded out our team. Ben is deserving of special mention; despite being committed to another sport, he found the time to turn up, utilise his recently boosted fitness for the team and run a bravely fast race.

Other very high places belonged to Zachary Pliatsikas (11Ho) in 18th, who is patiently waiting for his coach to let him run harder sessions as part of his programme, as well as Jack Waide in 19th, who, as Mr Spratt used to say, “smiled way too much” during his comfortable return! Ryan Gupta (10WJ) and Ashwin Sivapirabu (10Hi) were fast finishing, too, in 22nd and 23rd, and it will be interesting to see whether Ashwin can topple Ryan in future events, having been so close for a number of weeks. It is worth remarking that, consistent with the Head Master’s comments at Quad on Monday, the importance of teams outweighs that of individuals in the context of team sports. Though you might argue that Cross Country is an individual sport, it is not only the team’s performance of which the overall point score is comprised, but it is also the encouragement of friend and challenge of foe which spur one on to better one’s individual performance. Nowhere is this more evident in our Cross Country squad at the moment than in the Intermediate age group.

Our Opens team again defeated the other CAS schools, coming in 4th place overall. Patrick Cantlon (12Du) started off more conservatively than previous races on the hills, saving his strength for the final laps, during which he secured a lead over everyone except the impressive, in-form Ciaran Rashton from Kings. Theo Christian (12He) came 15th, Oscar Martin (11Sc) 58th and Keelan Stephandellis (11Hi) 63rd to complete our point-scoring team, although Rory Clunas (11Yo) was once again not far behind in 64th! Regan Chapman (10He) is beginning to look more and more like a long distance runner, having realised his enjoyment of the sport during the lockdown conditions of last year. It was great to see him successfully aiming to beat his course personal best from last term. Edward Yu (12Sc), too, is seeming to enjoy his running as he commits to improvement. There is, I venture to say, no runner in our squad with a steadier or more consistent pace to his running at the moment than Edward, and so much is this the case that he continued to run all the way down the finish chute after the clock was stopped!

Finally, I would like to thank Peter Wade for his high-class photography of the meets for a number of years now and his generosity in having shared some of his photos with us this season as we celebrate our runners’ achievements. If you would like to follow his work as it comes out, visit his Facebook or Instagram page at peterwade.photography. In addition, I would encourage you, if you love certain photos and would like to attain digital or print copies, to purchase them via the same address as a website URL.

We look forward to a different challenge tomorrow at Upjohn Park in Rydalmere, hosted by Scots.

Good running,

Phillip Mugridge |MIC of Cross Country


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