Cambrian rookie and vets race at the Ramsey Tour
by Randy Pascal
The Ramsey Tour might not be included in the list of OCAA official cross-country races, but that won't stop Cambrian College Golden Shield from using the traditional early September event as a great barometer for the upcoming run season.
Beyond the fact that Cambrian could lay claim to unofficial race bragging rights – coach Eric Leishman did capture the 5 km distance, after all, scorching through with a new course record of 15:27 – there were plenty of other positive takeaways for Shield athletes and supporters alike.
While more depth would be welcomed across the board, on both the men's and women's teams, those who have stepped forward provide some very interesting storylines. A trio of returning male runners in the form of Erich Mundt (18:08), Sudburian Shawn Belanger (19:54) and Gergely Szabo (20:55) are all anxious to build on the base they founded with coach Leishman one year ago.
"I ended up cutting five seconds off my time this year, which is really great," said Mundt. "I was a little nervous coming into it, because I just made the drive up to Sudbury from London this past weekend, so I wasn't really able to get in any speed work this week."
Mind you, being back in his hometown (London) all summer long did carry some benefits when it came to his training program in preparation for year two of OCAA competition. "I am in a little bit of a lucky situation, because I train the runners at the Running Room (back home), so my work was in the store, as well as on the track," said Mundt.
"A lot of the times, I would head over later at night at the track and there is always a very large number of competitive athletes there. It's not that hard to find someone to do a speed workout with."
On the girls side, the Shield did not return provincial caliber threat Mary Strain, following her successful two year run. Rather, they inherited more of a longer term project in the form of Sudbury Lady Wolves' defenceman and Collège Notre Dame graduate Jamie Ricci.
"I think I ran cross-country in grade nine, but after that, I kind of ran recreationally every once in a while," noted the third year nursing student. "It's never been a competitive sport for me, but I've always enjoyed running." In fact, unlike other relative newcomers to the sport, Ricci has no issue with the longer distances, having tackled the half-marathon at the Sudbury Rocks race back in May.
"Victoria Pitawanakwat (former hockey teammate) and I decided that we wanted that challenge, so we decided to sign up," said Ricci. "We looked at that as a goal to kind of push ourselves a little bit. That was quite the experience. I've never run that far in my life."
With a time of 25:11 as a starting point, this fall is all about self-improvement for the always positive 20 year-old. "Now I know what to expect for future races," said Ricci. "I'm going to work on my intervals, pacing myself to make sure my consistency is there. Aside from that, it was a great beginner race."
Sidelined at the moment with a lower back injury, 25 year old Kevin Jeanveau understands exactly where Ricci is coming from, as he steps in as a quasi "assistant coach" while healing, looking to hopefully return to competition either this year or next.
"I can relate to that because last year, I was brand new to running competitively, coming off a soccer background my entire life," he said. "From last year, I will definitely take away the importance of giving back to the team by being as supportive as I can, having my ear open for any time they (the athletes) need to talk, especially the newer runners."
"Eric (Leishman) and the coaches last year were a huge part of my growth as a competitive runner, so I would like to give that back to everyone." The Golden Shield cross-country crew will kick off the college season, in earnest, next weekend, travelling to London for the Fanshawe Invitational.
A lack of offensive punch proved costly for both Cambrian soccer teams as a four-game set at the New Sudbury campus on Saturday and Sunday would see the homeside fail to register a goal. That said, they may not face another weekend with a one-two opposition punch as impressive as the tandem of the Humber Hawks and Sheridan Bruins.
The Cambrian men managed to hold Humber at bay through the opening half, the game still scoreless, with the Hawks finally breaking the ice in the 65th minute and pulling away late with three tallies in the final ten minutes of play. The Sunday affair was even more heartbreaking, if eerily similar, in many ways.
Once again, it was 0-0 at the half, with Sheridan going up one in the 60th minute. This time around, Cambrian carried the play for stretches on end, pressing in search of the equalizer. A game tying marker was nullified on a tight foul on the Bruins' keeper, leaving coach Steph Legrand and company feeling they deserved a better fate than their 1-0 loss.
"Nick Riley was our best defensive player on the weekend, playing his role as being our first line of defense very well," said Legrand. "Brandon Moxam was arguably the best player on the field on Sunday. He did everything, providing offense, defending, being vocal, and winning tackles in the midfield."
Unveiling a whole slew of new faces, the Cambrian women were victimized for the uncertainty against the provincial powerhouse that is Humber, dropping a 5-0 decision on Saturday, keeping things closer the next day before eventually succumbing to Sheridan by a final score of 3-0.
"There were many positives to build on for the remainder of the season, which will help us close the scoring gap in future games," noted head coach Dayna Corelli, who also highlighted the weekend efforts of veteran midfielder Morgan Melnek, as well as rookie defenders Jessie Hayward and Elisabeth Chisholm.