After joining the Pilot Mound Collegiate Institute (PMCI) boys cross country team, members of the Pilot Mound Hockey Academy eyed a junior varsity championship.
They accomplished the feat quite handily at Spruce Woods. PMCI won with 27 points. Second-place Prairie Mountain finished with 62 points. Rankings are based on low scores.
“I liked it. It was with all my buddies so it was fun for sure,” says Jozse Gauthier-Urmos, one of six Pilot Mound Hockey Academy student-athletes on the team. “That was really nice to get. It was nice to have accomplished that.”
Aiden Corbett and Ashton Paul formed a 1-2 punch taking first and second, while Nick McKee was fourth overall, Gauthier-Urmos was 13th, Dawson Chen 14th and Justin Issakiark was 34th in the four-kilometre distance.
“It was very good to win it. I was very proud of myself, proud to be on the team and school,” says Paul.
New to competing in cross-country, the championship distance surprised Paul since he had never run like that before.
“It was pretty tough. I was not at the front of the line from the start, I started to pass people through the race,” he says.
What Paul will remember most was what happened at the finish line – he and Corbett hugged.
“Everyone started clapping,” says Paul.
Isaac Friesen, coach of the PMCI cross-country team, says he had a solid group of Grade 10s.
“They were exceptional,” says Friesen of the Pilot Mound Hockey Academy athletes.
While competing on a cross-country team, Friesen had done hockey-specific training with the athletes and didn’t have them run three- to five-kilometres. The training placed an emphasis on getting in better shape – improving speed and endurance.
Friesen says that Corbett, Paul, McKee, Gauthier-Urmos, Chen and Issakiark were in pretty good shape because of their off-season work. That made it easier for the coach in terms of working with them.
“They are kind of already a step ahead of everyone,” he says. “We had a good group where we didn’t have basically a weak link. All seven of our runners were very excellent.”
As a coach, Friesen felt fortunate to have a bunch of hard working kids who would show up, want to put the work in.
“At the end of the day, they got the result that they wanted,” he says.