Freshman conquers cross country hill

QUICK SILVER: Leaside High School's Remy Cattell claimed silver in midget girls' 3080 metre cross country, Nov. 7.
QUICK SILVER: Leaside High School’s Remy Cattell claimed silver in midget girls’ 3080-metre cross country, Nov. 7.

Life is full of ups and downs — just ask Leaside High School’s OFSAA silver medallist, Remy Cattell.

The Grade 9 student claimed second spot on the podium in the midget girls 3080-metre cross country, Nov. 7 in Duntroon, Ont. but not without some hard work.

Cattell had to run uphill for a kilometre in the mud, all while fellow racers were giving up, and then downhill for another kilometre.

Her secret weapon?

“Our track coach had us wear longer spikes,” she said, on the track at Leaside with mom Cory Cattell beaming beside her. “So, if you didn’t have long enough spikes you would fall and slide.”

Coaches Helen Panayiotou and Lisa Bourgard were the ones to think quick, leading to Cattell’s time of 12:08.32. She finished just under 28 seconds behind the leader, Cameron Ormond of Aurora High School.

Not bad for her first time at OFSAA, especially in Lancers’ Green and Gold.

“It was really hard to keep going, but I just kept pushing myself and telling myself I could do it,” she said.

This wasn’t Cattell’s first rodeo. The 13-year-old has been running cross since Grade 1, and in Grade 7 at Bessborough Public School she joined the Central Toronto Athletic Club.

CTAC focuses on middle-distance track and cross country. They train at Monarch Park Stadium, Sunnybrook Park, St. Michael’s College and Leaside.

Once Cattell joined their team, her times improved.

“A lot of the coaches help by supporting me and cheering me on,” she said. “This year I started doing better than others and myself ever thought I could.”

Cory Cattell admitting she teared up at OFSAA when her daughter neared the finish line.

“I’m just so proud of her, for her first time at OFSAA, and coming out of there in second place,” she said. “There were 280 girls — we didn’t realize how big it would be that day and apparently that was one of the hardest cross country courses historically.”

The good news for Leaside coaches is Cattell will be sticking with cross country, setting her sights on the Olympics further down the road, much like current stars Kate van Buskirk and Megan Brown.

“I like that it’s just something that’s all about you — you get to focus on what you have to do better,” Remy Cattell said. “I like how I feel after my races. I feel happy with myself and proud.”

Rounding out the OFSAA results for Leaside High were Samantha MacDonald (164th) and Georgia Papathanasakis (266th).