crosscountry Alex
Algonquin cross-country runner Kieran Day with his silver medal from a Sept. 14 event at St. Lawrence. He finished fourth in his second event at Seneca College.


By Alex Quevillon

Algonquin’s Cross Country program is still in its inaugural year, but its athletes are already gaining respectability amongst other post-secondary schools across the province.

Fittingly, the two best runners so far have prior experience before joining the Algonquin squad.

Kieran Day, who ran last year with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, has a pair of top-five finishes on his record.

“(Experience) means a lot” said Day, who finished second on Sept. 14 at St. Lawrence’s Kingston campus, and fourth at Seneca College on Oct. 11.

“You know what to expect coming in.  You can help those who aren’t as experienced, so they know what’s going to happen.”

At St. Lawrence, Day finished 33 seconds behind Clinton Smith from Fanshawe, a school that had three of the top five runners.

Chelsea Jacklin, who was a hurdler at Western University before this year, placed 16th at St. Lawrence, and 10th at Seneca.

“I’m really enjoying it here,” said Jacklin.  “Coming here and doing cross country is definitely a big leap.”

Ron Port, Algonquin’s director of athletic operations, also believes that the experience has helped Algonquin’s athletes.

“Those are competitive clubs,” Port added in regards to Day and Jacklin’s prior experience.  “If you’ve been running this long, you have to be quite competitive.”

The coaching staff sees experience as an asset on and off the track.

“Both Chelsea and Kieran have brought great experience in training and competing at a high level to the team,” said head coach Laura Clarke.

“There are a lot of inexperienced runners on the team and so it’s great to have a few athletes who can help out the rest of the team with their past experiences.”

Katie Golec finished just behind Jacklin in both events, the third athlete to finish top-20 in both events from Algonquin.

Algonquin’s best results were at St. Lawrence, as a treacherous course at Seneca threw off a lot of runners.

“The Seneca course was one of the toughest and most tactical cross-country courses that we have ever seen,” said Clarke.

“A lot of rocks and roots on the trails that the athletes had to watch out for.  Our number one priority in the race was to have our athletes complete it safely.”

“It was pretty much single-file for three quarters of it,” said Day.  “It was very hilly, lots of routes, so it was more about taking your time, figuring out the best path to take.”

The performances of these athletes has set the groundwork as Algonquin looks to build yet another solid sports program.

“(Fellow head coach Elias Koech and I), we both feel that the Algonquin Cross-country team has great promise for the future,” said Clarke.

“Our athletes this year have shown great improvement over the course of the season and will just continue to keep getting better. We hope to see even more interest in the program for next fall.”

First, this year’s athletes will have to perform on their biggest stage yet.

“We have to see what they’ll do at the provincial level,” said Port.  “They’re going to be up against it.  We don’t know where we’re going to finish, but our times indicate that we’re going to do quite well.”

Provincial championships will be held at Redeemer College on Oct. 26.  Algonquin will send seven men and four women to the tournament.

Clarke was clear in her expectations for Provincials.

“Our expectations for Provincials are that both teams will compete hard and be competitive in their respective races. That we will have an individual athlete or team qualify to Nationals.  That the athletes will gain valuable experience from racing in a high level meet.  And that we will have some fun.”

“I definitely want to stay in the top-10,” said Jacklin.  “I want to improve my time again, so each race, just get better and better.”