The Saturday morning sun shone brightly upon the course at Hiawatha for the 2012 OCAA Cross Country Championships; while also casting its rays upon the first year Sault College Cougars squad. In their inaugural season of competition the Cougars entered the day ready to test themselves against the best in Ontario.
On the men’s side the Cougar Men faced stiff competition from perennial powerhouses Fanshawe and Humber Colleges. The young team made up of all freshmen runners ran hard finishing 12th out of 20 teams; led by Tyler Davie and Dalton Opper who raced to top 50 spots in the field of over 100. Davie stated “it was a great experience – we just didn’t run we truly competed with the best Ontario has to offer.”
On the women’s side, the Cougar women made a strong statement in their first championship placing four racers in the top 25 and securing Sault College’s first ever OCAA cross country medal with a second place silver medal performance behind defending champion Humber College. Erin Mallinger and Tessa Kasch paced the Cougars with respective 10th and 14th place finishes; earning them second team all Ontario honours. Carissa Holley (18th), Adrianna Weir (25th) along with personal bests by Aislyn Ireton and Amanda Allen helped secure the silver for Sault College. Mallinger quite pleased with being in the top 10 chose to focus more on the team element commenting “it feels great – we train hard together every day and Coach Smith inspired us to achieve our team goals.”
Following the day a very pleased head coach Sherri Smith said “in our inaugural season I could not be more proud of our men’s and women’s teams and the women’s second place finish to Humber College is undoubtedly the highlight of the event. Our women’s team performance is completely reflective of our preparation; we did not allow our newness to dictate the outcome – we used it to inspire us. In the men’s race with very tough competition we rose to the challenge with gutsy efforts by Tyler (Davie) and Dalton (Opper).”
Tessa Kasch reflected on the Cougars performance “our coach believes in us and that spurred us all to be our best; the result was a product of her helping us set goals and most importantly realize these goals through hard work and sacrifice.”
Next up for the Cougar women will be the CCAA National Championships in St. Lambert, QC in November where they will turn their attention to making a statement on the national stage.