Saskatoon Walter Murray’s Moktar Abodu Said made the most of his final chance to earn a gold medal at the SHSAA provincial high school cross country meet.
The Grade 12 student, who finished second in last year’s provincials in Delisle, made his way around the five-kilometre course at Prime Ministers’ Park in 15 minutes and 36 seconds on his way to reaching the top of the podium in the senior boys’ event.
“To have a chance to come back to provincials again and win a gold medal in my last year is a great feeling,” Abdou Said said after the race. “It was an awesome race and there was lots of great competition here today.”
Although Abdou Said won by a margin of 13 seconds, his toughest challenge came from silver medalist Adam Mytopher of Strasbourg, who took home the midget and junior boys titles at the last two provincial meets.
“I didn’t want to be too aggressive at the start there, so I just stayed with the main pack until about 600 metres into the race when I began to push the pace a little bit,” Abdou Said explained.
“Adam and the rest of the top guys all have really good finishing kicks, so I had to make sure that I kept pushing when I had that lead so that they couldn’t catch me.”
Benjamin Seshardi of Saskatoon Centennial rounded out the podium.
The junior boys’ race was won by Abraham Makaby of Saskatoon Holy Cross, with Matthew Finley of Walter Murray placing second and Brendan Bank of Hudson Bay finishing third.
Walter Murray’s Gilbert Chan captured the gold medal in the midget boys’ event over Roan Woodward of Nipawin and Ty Thiessen of Bishop Lloyd School in Lloydminster.
That race also saw Carlton’s Daniel McCaffery earn a sixth place result, which was the highest of any boys’ competitor from the North Central district.
It was an all North East district battle in the senior girls’ division, as Meadow Lake Carpenter’s Avery Pearson sprinted away from Maidstone’s Jenna McFadyen to earn the victory.
“I’ve really been working hard on building up my endurance this year, especially after I did a lot of short distance events during track and field season,” said Pearson, who is in Grade 11.
“I’m really happy with how things turned out today.”
The two runners also battled it out in last year’s junior girls’ race in Delisle, which saw McFayden come away with the gold medal.
“We race each other quite a bit since we are in the same district, so there’s a bit of a friendly rivalry between us,” said Pearson, who also won a gold medal in the midget girls’ race at the 2017 provincials in Turtleford.
“I just tried to stay patient during the whole race as I didn’t want the gap to be so far that it would end up being a bit tough to try and catch Jenna at the end. I was able to match her pace-wise and then I was able to use the hills to my advantage.”
Walter Murray’s Allison Novecosky, who won the bronze medal in the junior race last year, rounded out the podium.
The closest race of the day occurred in the junior girls’ division as Alexis Lewans of Saskatoon Holy Cross won in a photo finish over Molly Lakustiak of Regina LeBoldus.
Stella McLeod of LeBoldus finished in third.
Moose Jaw Central’s Jadyn Palaschuk had the most impressive win on Saturday as she cruised to the finish line with a 46-second margin of victory in the midget girls’ race.
Belen Reed of Yorkton Sacred Heart captured the silver medal and Attleigh Maloney of Saskatoon Centennial won the bronze.
Carlton’s Rayne Cyr had the best result of any female athlete from the North Central district with a 14th place showing in the midget girls’ event.