The wintry weather was wicked and a challenging course was made more difficult by snow and ice at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) cross-country running championship this weekend in Sudbury.
Despite the brutal conditions that included snow and ice-covered terrain, several determined local athletes competed and met the challenge of the conditions while battling the ultra-competitive field that raced for glory.
Isabella Holmgren from Orillia was the top local athlete. She placed fifth in the novice girls' four-kilometre race, clocking a time of 16:27. Her sister, Ava Holmgren, also shone, cracking the top 30. She finished 27th in a time 17:08.
The Orillia girls represent Nouvelle Alliance School in Barrie.
Orillia's Anna Jaklova from Twin Lakes Secondary School also had a strong showing at Kivi Park in Sudbury. The Thunderbird runner crossed the tape in 34th position in the novice division, with a time of 17:14.
The conditions were treacherous. The start was messy slush, so the runners were wet and the course narrowed quickly, making for aggressive racing. The four-kilometre loop was hard-packed with ice and fresh snow on top, making the rolling hills very slippery.
The conditions didn't seem to bother Kyla Martin from St. Joan of Arc in Barrie. She was the gold-medal winner in the novice competition, besting the 252-athlete field with a stellar time of 15:37.
Two other local athletes also battled hard in the unforgiving conditions.
Orillia Secondary School student Audrey Reickenberg finished up 132nd in the senior girls' race, while fellow OSS student Mason Jacobs was 42nd in the C0-Ed Para Race in Sudbury.
All the local athletes that competed at OFSAA had to be among the top finishers at the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association regional championship, held recently at Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville.