Tomorrow is OFSAA cross-country, also known as the Olympics for Ontario high school runners. The 2019 event is happening in Sudbury–and the conditions are going to be tough (a nice mix of rain and snow, with temperature hovering around 2 degrees) but weather like that is what cross-country is all about.
In anticipation of the Ontario high school championships, here’s a look back at where some current Canadian record holders placed at OFSAA.
Kevin Sullivan – five-time gold medallist
Sullivan is one of the greatest Canadian track and field runners of all-time and still holds the provincial record for most OFSAA (track and cross-country) wins ever. He was undefeated on the cross-country course throughout his five years of school. Sullivan’s highest OFSAA cross-country placing was first–five times in a row. Sullivan still holds the Canadian 1,500m record at 3:31.71.
Brandon McBride – first
McBride was a nine-time OFSAA champion with his track and cross-country results combined. He then went on to have a very successful NCAA career at Mississippi State before returning to train with his high school coach in Windsor. McBride owns the Canadian 800m record at 1:43.20.
Mohammed Ahmed – first
Ahmed was an OFSAA legend in his time, taking down Canadian steeplechase record holder Matt Hughes in Niagara Falls in 2007. The two would go on to attend school in the states and both train with the Bowerman Track Club in Portland. Ahmed is the Canadian 5,000m and 10,000m record holder.
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford – first
DeBues-Stafford claimed her first OFSAA cross-country title in grade 12, winning the senior women’s race. She then attended the University of Toronto before moving to Glasgow, Scotland to work with coach Andy Young and train with Laura Muir. DeBues-Stafford is now a six-time Canadian record holder.
Melissa Bishop-Nriagu – second
Bishop-Nriagu was an multi-time OFSAA track medallist and who secured second place at OFSAA cross-country in grade nine. She then went on to train for the 400m and 800m and attend the University of Ottawa before transferring to the University of Windsor where she would continue to train after finishing school. Bishop is the Canadian 800m record holder.
Mike Woods – third
Woods, one of Canada’s best-ever cyclists, still holds the Canadian junior mile record and 3,000m records. Woods finished third in the senior men’s race in Renfrew in 2003. He went from high school to the University of Michigan where Canadian record holders Kevin Sullivan and Nate Brannen had gone before him. After several years of running during his undergrad, the runner became a cyclist.
Woods competed in his first Tour de France this past summer, becoming the first person to both run a sub-4 mile and finish the tour (maybe also the first OFSAA medallist to do both as well.)